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Question of the Day
Syria’s ally Iran, blamed the U.S. and its allies for Annan’s resignation, saying it was their insistence on Assad’s removal from power that had undermined the six point U.N. peace plan, which was never implemented.
“Annan’s six-point plan was accepted by Syria,” said Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi Friday. “It was Western countries and some regional states that didn’t want Annan plan to succeed.” He also accused the U.S. and its allies in the region of contributing to the instability, saying they were supplying the Syrian rebels with weapons and equipment.
The U.N. General Assembly was preparing to vote Friday on a new Arab-sponsored resolution condemning Syria’s use of heavy weapons to crush the uprising that has killed an estimated 19,000 people since it began on March 2011.
The resolution — which like all General Assembly resolutions is unenforceable — is expected to denounce Syria for unleashing tanks, artillery, helicopters and warplanes on the people of Aleppo and Damascus, and demand that the Assad regime keep its chemical and biological weapons warehoused and under strict control.
U.N. observers had confirmed Wednesday that they witnessed Syrian warplanes firing rockets and machine guns.
A rebel assault and revolt in Damascus two weeks ago was vigorously crushed by government forces, but pockets of resistance and sympathetic neighborhoods remain.
Clashes and shelling also continue in Aleppo, especially the opposition bastion of Salaheddine as rebels and government forces hold different parts of that city. On Thursday, the rebels even deployed a captured tank against the regime and briefly shelled an air force base outside Aleppo.
In a briefing on Friday, the U.N. refugee agency said “terror is gripping the population and humanitarian aid is desperately needed.” It sighted the Syrian Red Crescent as saying that 45 schools and six dormitories in the city are hosting 7,200 refugees, with an unknown number sheltering in mosques.
The U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous warned of a major government assault on Aleppo in the coming days to retake the rebel-held neighborhoods.
“The focus is now on Aleppo, where there has been a considerable buildup of military means, and where we have reason to believe that the main battle is about to start,” he told reporters in New York late Thursday after briefing the Security Council on his trip to Syria.
Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut, Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, Iran, and Dalia Nammari in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.
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