France issues stark warning to Syria

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Wednesday labelled the UN-backed peace plan for Syria "seriously compromised" and held out the threat of seeking military action to end the year-long crackdown.

UN-Arab envoy Kofi Annan had urged a rapid deployment of the full, 300-strong observer team agreed by the UN Security Council, and Juppe said they should be on the ground in a fortnight, not three months.

Without quick progress, Juppe said the international community would have "to move on to another step which we have already started raising with our partners, under Chapter Seven of the United Nations charter."

A Chapter Seven resolution, which can be imposed by the Security Council if member states think peace is threatened by an act of aggression, authorises foreign powers to take measures including military options.

Juppe pointed out however that such a resolution, which was also mooted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, was unlikely to pass, alluding to previous Security Council vetoes from Russia and China.

"The Damascus regime does not respect the commitments it made. Repression is continuing. Monitors cannot work on the ground. This cannot last indefinitely," he said after meeting Syrian opposition members in Paris.

"Things are not going well," Juppe said. "The Annan plan is seriously compromised but there is still a chance for this mediation, on the condition of the rapid deployment of the 300 monitors."

At the moment, there are only 15 observers in the country.

Juppe said that May 5, when Annan is to present his next report on the peace process, would be a "a moment of truth."

If the UN mission "is not working, we cannot continue to accept the defiance of the regime" and the international community will have "to move on to other things to stop the tragedy."

He said he hoped Russia would draw the right conclusions from Syria's efforts to block the monitors' deployment.

At least 27 civilians were killed across the country on Wednesday, including in cities visited by monitors, taking to around 300 the number of people who have died since a ceasefire technically went into effect on April 12, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Twelve of them died in government shelling of the Mashaa al-Tayaran district in the central city of Hama, the London-based Observatory said.

Elsewhere, two civilians were killed by sniper fire in Douma, a northeastern suburb of the capital.

It was unclear whether UN monitors, who visited Douma on Wednesday, were present before or afterwards.

Three soldiers died in clashes with armed rebel groups in the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Addressing the UN Security Council via teleconference on Tuesday, Annan said he was "concerned" about the violence surging after observers visit individual cities.

The former UN chief said Assad has still not fulfilled a promise to end violence and said the situation was "bleak" and "unacceptable."

Annan said he was "particularly alarmed" at reports that government forces had entered Hama after a visit by UN monitors and killed "a significant" number of people.

"If confirmed this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible," he told the council.

Neeraj Singh, spokesman for the advance team of UN monitors, said two were based in Hama and two in Homs -- cities that have both witnessed fierce fighting between government and rebel forces -- and the rest in Damascus.

Singh said the observers, who are set to number 30 in the coming days, report back to Annan daily on what they have seen.

Annan spokesman Ahmad Fawzi acknowledged that the truce aimed at ending 13 months of violence that the United Nations says has killed more than 9,000 people remained "extremely fragile".

He said satellite imagery showed the regime had not fully withdrawn all of its heavy armour from population centres as required by the Annan plan.

Fawzi added that in areas visited by the observers, the guns were falling silent but credible reports indicated the violence resumes once they leave.

Meanwhile, diplomats said the United Nations will name Major General Robert Mood to head the ceasefire observer mission, and that he is expected to be in Damascus as early as this weekend.

UN member states have so far offered only 100 military officers for the unarmed force given the risky mission.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar
    South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar

    South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a controversial adultery law which for more than 60 years had criminalised extra-marital sex and jailed violators for up to two years. The decision saw shares in the South Korean firm Unidus Corp., one of the world's largest condom manufacturers, soar by the daily limit of 15 percent on the local stock exchange. "Even if adultery should be condemned as immoral, state power should not intervene in individuals' private lives," said …

  • National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe
    National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe

    Pakistani officials are investigating after the famous green-eyed "Afghan girl" immortalised in a 1985 National Geographic magazine cover was found living in the country on fraudulent identity papers. The haunting image of the then 12-year-old Sharbat Gula, taken in a refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine's history. Now Pakistani officials say that Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in the northwestern city of Peshawar in April …

  • U.S. flies most advanced surveillance plane from Philippines

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - The United States has begun flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, out of the Philippines for patrols over the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday, acknowledging the flights for the first time. The United States, the Philippines' oldest and closest ally, has promised to share "real time" information on what is happening in Philippine waters as China steps up its activities in the South China Sea. China claims most of …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’
    ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’

    Supt. Raymund Train, who led the SAF team that killed Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, recounted in a sworn statement the meeting he and senior SAF officers had with Aquino in Malacañang on Nov. 30. Train said among the senior officers who attended the meeting were then PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas, SAF deputy commander Chief Supt. Noli Taliño and intelligence group chief Senior Supt. Fernando Mendez. …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate
    IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate

    "Jihadi John", the masked Islamic State group militant believed responsible for beheading of at least five Western hostages, has been named as Kuwaiti-born computing graduate Mohammed Emwazi from London. "Jihadi John", nicknamed after Beatle John Lennon due to his British accent, is believed to be responsible for the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options