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Syria opposition, activists hit out at Annan

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Annan has proved powerless to end the violence that monitors say has cost 17,000 lives, since the anti-Assad uprising broke out inMarch 2011

take a seatRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, welcomes a Syrian National Council (SNC)delegation in Moscow on Wednesday.PHOTO: AP
take a seatRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, welcomes a Syrian National Council (SNC)delegation in Moscow on Wednesday.PHOTO: AP

Syria's opposition in exile and activists on the ground have hit out at international envoy Kofi Annan, accusing him of treating the victim and aggressor in the country's brutal conflict on the same terms.

They also lashed out at the UN-Arab League envoy for seeking to placate President Bashar al-Assad's ally Iran.

More than four months on from his appointment, Annan has proved powerless to end the violence that monitors say has cost 17,000 lives, mostly civilians, since the anti-Assad uprising broke out in March 2011, as first with peaceful protests.

"People are outraged, and it is clear that the envoy is biased," opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) member Bashar al-Haraki told AFP. "What has he achieved? Nothing except blood."

"We were shocked when he said Iran had to be involved, when Iran is an accomplice to the murders," he said. "Iran has provided experts to monitor communications from the start of the revolt, and later they sent fighters."

The Islamic republic has long been a close ally of the Damascus regime, especially after Syria became the only Arab state to support Iran in its 1980-1988 war against Iraq.

After meeting with Assad in Damascus on Monday, Annan said: "We agreed an approach which I will share with the armed opposition," angering activists on the ground.

"Annan talks about the 'armed opposition' -- whereas it's the mafia regime attacking the people," a Damascus-based activist who identified himself as Ahmed al-Khatib told AFP via Skype.

"We took to the streets with olives and flowers but reality forced us to take up arms. It's impossible to demand that the people hand over weapons now," he added.

"The international community is split -- so what is the use of Annan?" said Khatib.

"Even the least political aspect of Annan's plan -- humanitarian assistance -- has not been in any way implemented, and there are people in some areas of Syria living in conditions worse than the Stone Age."

Annan brokered a six-point peace plan in March calling for an inclusive political process, a ceasefire, humanitarian assistance, release of arbitrarily detained persons, freedom of movement for journalists, and to allow peaceful demonstrations.

He has since became the butt of cruel jokes circulating on activists' Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

One Tweet by @Syria7ra described Annan as the "Russian-Iranian envoy for the protection of Bashar," while another proposed that next Friday's weekly protests be held under the slogan: "Annan, go home."

Referring to his past role as UN secretary general, the activist named Abu Ghazi said: "When we first heard that Annan had been appointed, we were upset because we know he has a bad history in Rwanda, Iraq and other countries.

"What he has done again and again is provide political cover for leaders who are committing massacres." AFP


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