Violence tears Syria despite ceasefire pledge

A new flurry of high-level diplomacy has failed to stop the violence in a year-old Syrian conflict.

Damascus: President Bashar al-Assad`s regime
pressed its deadly campaign to crush dissent on Monday, reportedly
pounding northern rebel strongholds as it brushed off a
"Friends of Syria" meeting as a failure.

An explosion ripped through central Damascus today
morning, injuring several people and damaging shops near a
police station, Syrian television and witnesses said.

Violence elsewhere killed at least three people, as
international peacebroker Kofi Annan prepared to brief the UN
Security Council after Western and Arab nations sought a
deadline for Damascus to implement his peace plan.

The call was issued in Istanbul at a meeting yesterday of
the so-called Friends of Syria group seeking to end the

Nations at the conference -- including Arab League
members, the United States, France and Germany -- steered
clear of backing opposition appeals for arms to fight the
regime clampdown.

The opposition Syrian National Council, which is funded
by some Gulf Arab states, said it would pay the salaries of
rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army seeking to topple the
Assad regime.

In a final declaration, the conference urged UN-Arab
League envoy Annan "to determine a timeline for next steps,
including a return to the UN Security Council, if the killing

"The regime will be judged by its deeds rather than its
promises. The window of opportunity for the regime to
implement its commitments to joint special envoy Annan is not
open-ended," it added.

Assad had on Tuesday said he accepted Annan`s six-point

The plan calls for an end to violence, a humanitarian
ceasefire and access to all restive areas, as well as an
inclusive Syrian-led political process, the right to
demonstrate, and the release of people detained arbitrarily.

Official Syrian media belittled the conference, however,
with one newspaper saying the gathering of what it called the
"Enemies of Syria" was a failure for those seeking to
overthrow Assad.


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