- - Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BEIRUT — Syrian troops shelled and raided opposition strongholds nationwide on Tuesday, activists said, prompting an urgent appeal by international envoy Kofi Annan to the Syrian regime to halt violence and give his truce plan a chance.

Syria’s foreign minister claimed that regime forces have begun withdrawing from some areas in compliance with Mr. Annan’s plan, which requires Syrian forces to pull back from towns and villages on Tuesday and both sides to cease all hostilities by 6 a.m. Thursday.

However, activists said Syrian forces carried out new attacks and that there were no signs of a withdrawal.

In a news conference in Hatay, Turkey, Mr. Annan insisted that his plan had not failed and Syria still had time to comply.

“We still have time between now and the 12th to stop violence,” he said. “I appeal to all, the government in the first place,” to halt fighting.

He also said violence must stop without conditions.

Mr. Annan said the U.N. Security Council would take up the issue later Tuesday.

The main Syrian opposition group, meanwhile, estimated that about 1,000 people had been killed in escalating regime attacks in the week leading up to Tuesday’s withdrawal deadline, though such figures cannot be verified independently.


Tunis in shock after ‘Black Monday’ crackdown

TUNIS — Tunisia was in shock Tuesday after riot police brutally clamped down on protesters defying a demonstration ban in the capital, with even President Moncef Marzouki denouncing “unacceptable violence.”

“Black Monday,” “fascist behavior” and “savagery” were among the harsh comments after some of the worst violence since last year’s revolution, which led to the downfall of Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

At least 15 civilians and eight policemen were hurt as riot police on Monday fired tear gas and baton-charged protesters who had turned out in the hundreds on a main avenue in Tunis despite a ban on demonstrations there.

Outside the capital, dozens of protesters attacked the ruling Ennahda Party offices in the eastern town of Monastir on Monday but did not manage to storm the building, Nejib Mrad, a lawmaker for the moderate Islamist party, told Agence France-Presse.


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