Syrian ceasefire deadline looms, violence continues

Government forces are due to pull out of Syrian towns and villages, paving the way for a UN-brokered ceasefire in the next two days. However, hopes are dwindling for the peace plan as regime troops and rebels remain locked in a stalemate, refusing to ba

­The six-point peace plan proposed by official UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan demands the withdrawal of government troops in preparation for a ceasefire on Thursday.

Clashes between regime forces and anti-government activists killed over 100 people on Monday according to Syrian opposition groups.

President Assad made no comments on the deadline following the latest violence. Diplomats say that according to the agreement he has until midnight Syrian time (21:00 GMT) on Tuesday to implement the troop withdrawal.

The international community has voiced doubt over Syria’s compliance with the peace plan, the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru referring to the deadline as “void.” The White House said that there were no signs that the regime was abiding by its withdrawal pledge.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem is currently in Moscow in talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over how Kofi Annan’s ceasefire can be salvaged.

Many fear that if the six-point peace plan fails, Syria will plunge into civil war.

Assad and the opposition are currently locked in a stalemate as both sides refuse to compromise. The regime has demanded a written guarantee from the rebels to stop fighting, a request that has been categorically refused by the opposition.

Meanwhile on Monday the conflict spilt over into neighboring Turkey, where Syrian troops were reported to have fired across the border, killing one and injuring five people.

The Turkish government denounced the attacks and said it would take unspecified steps if the mayhem continued in Syria, summoning Syria’s envoy to Ankara.

The US also decried the cross-border shooting and called for an end to the violence.

Kofi Annan will visit Syrian refugees living in camps along the Turkish border on Tuesday on his way to Iran, where he is expected to try and convince the Iranian government to put pressure on Syria to end the bloodshed.

The international community remains divided over the Syrian conflict. Western powers and the Arab League have been lobbying for opposition support in the form of financial aid and the ouster of Assad. Russia and China are opposed to international intervention and favor a more balanced approach, making equal demands to both the opposition and the Syrian government.

Conflict has racked the country for over a year, with UN estimates putting the total death toll at 9,000. Assad’s government says that the rebels have killed more than 3,000 soldiers and security personnel.

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