- Post 10 April 2012
By Oliver Holmes
BEIRUT | Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:51pm EDT
(Reuters) - Syrian forces pressed home a sustained assault on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, ignoring an international peace plan under which troops were to silence their guns and withdraw from urban areas.
Opposition groups said Syrian troops killed 31 people on Tuesday, and Turkish media reported heavy gunfire coming from what appeared to be an army post topped with a Syrian flag a short distance from the Turkish border.
Peace envoy Kofi Annan appealed to the U.N. Security Council to use its leverage to prevent the collapse of his efforts to halt 13 months of conflict and said Assad must make a "fundamental change of course" and adhere to a ceasefire due to begin on Thursday.
"Every effort must be made to achieve a cessation of violence in all its forms on 12 April at 0600 (0300 GMT)," Annan told the council in a letter, seen by Reuters.
"There is no more time to lose," Annan said in a statement to the press. "We must all push for an end to the bloodshed before Syria plunges into the abyss."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, president of the council this month, said all council members voiced "deep concern" at Damascus' level of commitment to its truce pledges.
Annan said he had information the Syrian military was withdrawing from some areas but moving to others not previously targeted.
Shelling of restive parts of Homs killed at least 26 people on Tuesday and five died in violence elsewhere, opposition groups said, but there was no sign of a military pullout, with tanks still in cities such as Homs and Hama.
Opposition activists say more than 800 Syrians have been killed since Assad accepted Annan's peace proposals on March 27.
Citing satellite images, a French foreign ministry spokesman denounced a Syrian assurance that troops were withdrawing as a "blatant lie".
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe added: "Assad lied to Kofi Annan, who has the total support of the international community."