UN Calls for ‘Immediate’ Implementation of Ceasefire in Syria
International leaders are calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to waste no time in implementing a United Nations backed ceasefire that his government agreed to on Tuesday.
“It’s incumbent on all of us to keep the pressure on Assad to meet the commitment that he’s made, and that’s our intention over the next few days,” the U.S. State Department said through a spokesperson.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is in Bahgdad for a historic Arab League summit in the Iraqi capital on Thursday, said the ceasefire agreement is “an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed.”
“I strongly urge President Assad of Syria to put those commitments into immediate effect,” he said.
The agreement, which is being pushed by the UN and Kofi Annan – who is representing the UN as the body’s special envoy to Syria – calls for humanitarian assistance, more freedom for journalists, a draw down of heavy weaponry from heavily populated areas, and a UN monitoring force to assist with the ceasefire.
The Arab League, which unsuccessfuly sent it’s own monitoring force into Syria last year, is meeting in Baghdad on Thursday with 10 heads of state in attendance.
“This plan represents a positive development that can be built on,” said Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi in a speech to the summit.
Members of the Assad’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, are waiting to see if Assad follows through with implementing the agreement, or if he is simply trying to buy time.
“We are not sure if it’s political manoeuvring or a sincere act,” said Louay Safi, a member of the Syrian National Council.