Peace envoy warns of ′tipping point′ in Syria conflict | News | DW | 29.05.2012
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Peace envoy warns of 'tipping point' in Syria conflict

The UN-Arab League peace envoy to Syria has reiterated a call for an end to the violence. Kofi Annan said he used a meeting with President Bashar Assad to warn that the conflict was at a "tipping point."

The man charged with trying to bring peace to Syria says the more-than-year-old conflict is approaching a point of no return.

United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan told reporters in Damascus on Tuesday that he used a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad to urge him to take swift action to bring an end to the violence.

"I appealed to him for bold steps now - not tomorrow, now - to create momentum for the implementation of the plan," Annan said, referring to a six-point peace plan he presented to the government in March.

"We are at a tipping point. The Syrian people do not want the future to be one of bloodshed and division. Yet the killings continue and the abuses are still with us today," he said.

Annan said he also used his talks with Assad to express "the grave concern of the international community about the violence in Syria, including the recent shocking events in Houla."

Pointing the finger

A total of 108 people were killed, many of them children, in a massacre of civilians in Houla last Friday.

On Tuesday, the UN's head of peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, told reporters at the international body's headquarters in New York that an investigation by UN monitors in Syria had determined that forces loyal to President Assad were most likely responsible for the killings.

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Syrian ambassadors expelled

"Part of the victims had been killed by artillery shells, now that points ever so clearly to the responsibility of the government. Only the government has heavy weapons, has tanks, has howitzers," Ladsous said.

"But there are also victims from individual weapons, victims from knife wounds and that of course is less clear but probably points the way to the (pro-Assad) shabbihas, the local militia," he added.

Diplomatic expulsions

Meanwhile, Germany has joined a growing number of countries who are moving to expel Syrian diplomats in protest against the massacre.

The bodies of people whom anti-government protesters say were killed by government security forces lie on the ground in Houla, near Homs May 26, 2012.

The Houla massacre was one of the conflict's worst

"Germany is acting with its partners," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement. "We are aiming to ensure that our unmistakable message does not fall on deaf ears in Damascus." He said Syria's ambassador in Berlin had been given 72 hours to leave Germany.

The United States, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and Canada were among the other countries to tell Syria's top diplomats to leave.

Notably absent from the list is Russia, Syria's main ally and weapons supplier.

However Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed "deep alarm in connection with the tragedy in Houla and underscored that all Syrian sides should reject violence without delay with the aim of preventing such incidents in the future," a statement from the ministry said.

pfd/ng (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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