Assad replies to UN proposals to end bloodshed



Assad replies to UN proposals to end bloodshed Damascus: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has responded to UN-Arab League proposals for an end to the bloodshed in Syria even as monitors said nearly 50 more people were killed and a pro-regime daily reported the capture of a rebel city.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who met with Assad in Damascus over the weekend, said he had made "concrete" proposals to the Syrian leader on ways to halt the attacks and secure humanitarian access to cities where the United Nations says thousands have been killed in the past year.

"Their responses are being considered," Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for the envoy, said yesterday, declining to comment on the substance of the Syrian response. Annan is expected to make a statement today in Geneva.

Despite international pressure and growing clamour for foreign intervention, Assad's regime has pushed on with a brutal crackdown on a year-long revolt that has killed more than 8,500 people, mostly civilians, according to activists.

Annan also said he had a "useful meeting" with six representatives of the opposition Syrian National Council headed by Burhan Ghalioun, whom he said had "promised their full cooperation."

Meanwhile, the United States dismissed Assad's announcement of elections May 7 under a new constitution passed in February.’

"Parliamentary elections for a rubber-stamp parliament in the middle of the kind of violence that we're seeing across the country -- it's ridiculous," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.

They would be the third such polls since Assad came to power in 2000, but the first under a multi-party system as authorised under the new charter.

In the latest clashes, 22 members of the security forces were killed in two separate ambushes in the southern region of Daraa and in Idlib province of northwest Syria, another hotspot of rebel operations, monitors said.

PTI