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Annan: Syria plan is only chance to avoid war

International envoy says world powers share a "profound concern" International envoy Kofi Annan has said his six-point peace plan for Syria is a "possible last chance to avoid civil war".

Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy tasked with bringing an end to the violence, said on Tuesday world powers shared a "profound concern" that Syria's violence was spiralling into civil war.

He said they had pledged to deploy 300 truce monitors to Syria by the end of the month.

Addressing the UN Security Council from Geneva via video-link, Annan said there had been "a spate of bombings that are really worrying'' and that the UN mission, mandated with monitoring a 12 April ceasefire in the country, "is the only remaining chance to stabilize the country".
The peace bid was not an "open-ended" opportunity for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Annan told the Security Council.

"There is a profound concern that the country could otherwise descend into full civil war, and the implications of that are frightening," he said.

Annan said failure to prevent a civil war “will not only affect Syria, it will have an impact on the whole region".

He also said that there has been "some decrease in the military activities, but there are still serious violations in the cessation of violence that was agreed".

"Government troops and armour are still present though in smaller formations. There have been worrying episodes of violence by the government, but we have also seen attacks against government forces, troops and installations," he said.

Annan’s comments came just as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said some parts of Syria already resemble a civil war.

Jakob Kellenberger, the head of the ICRC, told the Reuters news agency conflict in Homs and the province of Idlib this year met the agency's three criteria of a non-international armed conflict - intensity, duration and the level of organisation of rebels fighting government forces.

“It can be a situation of internal armed conflict in certain areas: an example was the fighting in [the neighbourhood of] Bab Amr in Homs in February," Kellenberger told Reuters, making clear the criteria were not met in the entire country.

'Ludicrous poll'

Activists say that more than 10,000 people have been killed across Syria since the uprising against Assad broke out in March 2011.

The Local Co-ordinarion Committees, an opposition activist network, said 20 people had been killed across the country on Tuesday, including eight people in the province of Idlib.

The unrest has persisted despite the parliamentary elections held on Monday as part of the government’s pledge to implement reforms.

The opposition boycotted the vote, denouncing it as a sham and the United States said was "bordering on ludicrous".

The Syrian government said turnout was high in the election that marked the first time Syria held a vote since the adoption in February of a new constitution allowing for multi-party polls.

"Millions of Syrians defied terrorism and chose their representatives in parliament," said the pro-government daily al-Watan, which estimated voter turnout at 60 per cent.

Meanwhile, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said he was losing hope for a solution and urged the UN to bolster its observer mission to up to 3,000 rather than the 300 authorised under a Security Council resolution.

"The UN should bolster its mission to Syria with up to 3,000 observers to give a full picture of the situation in the country," Erdogan said while on a visit to Rome, Italy.

"We need 1,000, 2,000, maybe 3,000 observers, a major mission so they can visit the whole country and see what is happening," Erdogan said.

"We support the Annan plan but if someone were to ask me what my hopes are, I would say I have lost hope."

There are only around 60 UN observers in Syria, although the team is expected to grow to 300 in the coming weeks.

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