Western powers maintained that diplomatic solutions like the Annan plan
were preferable to military intervention in Syria, even as UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that massacres of civilians, such
as the one perpetrated in Houla last weekend, could plunge Syria into a
devastating civil war.
The US, UK, France and China on Thursday
each urged the world to give UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace
plan for Syria more time to work, though appetite for a possible
military intervention should the plan fail varied substantially between
Speaking to students in Denmark, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out arguments against armed intervention in Syria.
are trying to keep pushing all the pieces to support Kofi Annan as an
independent voice because the Syrians are not going to listen to us,"
she said. Above all, she stressed there was no international support
because of Russian and Chinese opposition at the UN Security Council,
where they have twice vetoed resolutions on Syria.
Syria, she said, "may listen, maybe, to the Russians, so we have been pushing them."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing that,
"China believes that the situation in Syria currently is certainly very
complex and serious."
"But at the same time, we believe that
Annan's mediation efforts have been effective and we ought to have even
more faith in him and give him more support," he added.
said it is willing to consider all options for resolving the crisis in
Syria but only within the framework of the United Nations Security
Council, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.
about comments by the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice,
who on Wednesday suggested that member states may end up having to act
independently if the Council does not swift action to end the crisis,
the ministry said: "France supports the UN special envoy and Arab
League's plan, without ruling out any option for ending the crisis,
within the framework of the Security Council."
Britain was in
agreement. "Nobody is enthusiastic about the military option," UK
Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said in a Thursday interview with
Israel Radio, specifying that pushing for Syrian cooperation with the
Annan plan was preferable. "There's no rush to military action."
saying that Britain is "disgusted" with Syria's violence, particularly
the slaughter of 108 people in Houla last Friday, he added that "it
won't be helpful to start speculating" on military options.
problem is we do have to work through the UN security council," Gould
said, but added that the unsavory images coming out of Syria and
increasing support from the Arab League would make it more difficult for
countries to block steps at the Council.
Fears of a civil war
Secretary Ban cited fears raised on Tuesday by Kofi Annan, the joint
special envoy for the Arab League and United Nations, that Syria may
have already reached a "tipping point" following the Houla massacre.
massacre of civilians of the sort seen last weekend could plunge Syria
into catastrophic civil war - a civil war from which the country would
never recover," the UN secretary-general told a conference in Istanbul.
state media said it released 500 prisoners who were arrested on
suspicion of involvement in the 14-month-old revolt, on Thursday, two
days after peace envoy Kofi Annan urged President Bashar Assad to free
"500 people involved in the events taking place in
Syria, without blood on their hands, have been released," a newsflash on
state TV read.
Assad rejects ultimatum
commander of Syria's main armed rebel group urged Annan to formally
announce that his seven-week-old ceasefire plan had failed, allowing
rebels to resume attacks on President Bashar Assad's forces, Al Jazeera
Asaad also dismissed a 48-hour deadline
declared on Wednesday by senior Free Syrian Army officer for Assad to
comply with the plan.
"There is no deadline, but we want Kofi
Annan to issue a declaration announcing the failure of this plan so that
we would be free to carry out any military operation against the
regime," Asaad told Al Jazeera, adding that the rebel forces had so far
honored their commitments to the plan.