Continued from page 1

Syria’s uprising began a year ago with peaceful anti-Assad protests, which were met with a fierce crackdown by security forces. Since then, army defectors and protesters have taken up weapons, saying their only hope is to drive out Assad through force of arms. Annan’s spokesman told The Associated Press on Thursday that the international envoy is looking at the possibility of borrowing U.N. peacekeeping troops to monitor a cease-fire.

On Friday, China backed Assad’s demands that Syrian rebels had to commit to talks and stop attacks.

China, which along with Russia has twice vetoed proposed U.N. sanctions over Assad’s crackdown, has said it backs Annan’s peace plan, but also says there should be no external interference in Syria.

“We’d like to call on Syria’s opposition to make responses as soon as possible to create conditions for opening dialogue and stopping violence,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news conference Friday.

Associated Press writer John Heilprin in Geneva contributed to this report.