The refusal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime to comply with the provisions of the U.N.-backed Kofi Annan plan, which include a ceasefire and a pullback of heavy weapons from populated areas, is leading to grave consequences.
Syrian civilians are still being targeted by regime forces. The British-based opposition group, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says that more than 900 people have been killed since the truce supposedly went into effect on April 12. The U.N. has estimated that over 9,000 Syrians have been killed since anti-government protests began in March 2011.
Although approximately 250 unarmed U.N. observers have been deployed to Syria to report on the ceasefire, observers themselves have recently been caught up in the violence on at least two occasions. Earlier this month, a roadside bomb blew up a Syrian military truck near the southern city of Daraa just seconds after a team of observers rode by in a convoy. On May 15, a bomb actually struck the U.N. convoy of observers in the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun. Although none was injured, the observers had to be evacuated the next day.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the United States is “deeply concerned by the escalating violence on the ground in Syria and the country's deepening sectarianism, along. . .with the regime's failure to allow for a political transition while the opportunity remains.
“The longer that Assad clings to power,” said Mr. Carney, “the greater his destabilization of Syria and the region. That's why we're working with allies and partners to pressure Assad to step down as soon as possible, so that a Syrian-led democratic transition can be completed.”
In addition, Mr. Carney said, “We are supporting international efforts to broker a political solution to end the regime's violence; we are strengthening with our international partners the Syrian opposition, and we are addressing the worsening humanitarian situation and planning for a range of additional measures that may be necessary to protect the Syrian people and prevent this conflict from widening.”