Syria links troop pullback from cities to 'security'
Published: 31st Mar 2012 09:52:19
Syrian troops will stay in residential areas of cities until "peace and security" prevail, the government says.
A foreign ministry spokesman made the announcement after the UN's peace mission to Syria called for troops to be withdrawn as a good faith gesture.
President Bashar al-Assad has nominally accepted a peace plan proposed by UN envoy Kofi Annan.
However fighting has continued between government and opposition forces, with 40 people reportedly killed on Friday.
The UN believes at least 9,000 people have died in the year-long revolt against Mr Assad's rule.
Many victims are said to have been civilians killed by government shelling.
"The presence of the Syrian Arab army in Syrian cities is for defensive purposes [so] as to protect the civilians," Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi told state media.
"Once peace and security prevail, the army is to pull out."
1. Commitment to an inclusive, Syrian-led political process working with the UN envoy
2. A cease-fire including the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from inside and around populated areas
3. Provision of humanitarian aid through a UN mechanism
4. Release of arbitrarily detained persons
5. Freedom of movement across Syria for journalists
6. Respect for freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully
On Friday, Mr Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said the UN envoy expected President Assad to implement the peace plan immediately.
The plan "specifically asks the government to withdraw its troops, to cease using heavy weapons in populated centres", Mr Fawzi said.
"The very clear implication here is that the government must stop first and then discuss a cessation of hostilities with the other side and with the mediator."
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said the peace plan, which was drawn up by the UN and the Arab League, was a "last chance" for Syria to stop the bloodshed.
Damascus, he told the Associated Press news agency in Istanbul, must accept the plan without delay.
"The regime must understand that if they miss this last chance, they will be facing strong measures by the international community," he said.
Istanbul is hosting a 60-nation gathering of the "Friends of the Syrian People" this weekend aimed at finding ways to help Syria's opposition.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Syria links troop pullback from cities to 'security'. [Online] (Updated 31 Mar 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1419904-Syria-links-troop-pullback-from-cities-to-security [Accessed 24th May 2013]
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