The Syrian opposition said Thursday it is willing to accept a peace plan presented by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, but conditioned the acceptance on how quickly the plan would be implemented.
Waleed al-Bunni, a member of the Syrian National Council, told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that he met with the Russian ambassador at the UN Security Council and discussed Annan’s plan with him.
Al-Bunni said he explained that the opposition would accept the plan only if President Bashar Assad’s regime complies with its points within two days, even though it does not include the opposition’s main demand that Assad should step down.
“I stressed to him (the Russian ambassador) that if the points in Annan’s plan – in particular stopping the killings and arrests, releasing the detainees, allowing the Syrian people, who do not accept after today to be ruled by a butcher after having paid this price, to stage peaceful demonstrations, and withdrawing the Syrian army from the cities – then we will announce our acceptance of it,” Al-Bunni told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He added, “But if it is an extra time for Bashar al-Assad to commit more massacres and destroy more cities and we lose 10,000 citizens, then it proves like all previous initiatives that the international community is not serious about solving the Syrian crisis and this community must then confront Al-Assad with his lies.”
Addressing the opposition’s principal demand that Assad should step down, Al-Bunni stressed the Syrian people would express their opinion in front of Assad’s palace and bring him down peacefully if the regime accepted this initiative.
“This prompts us to welcome this initiative even though it does not include a clause about Al-Assad stepping down,” he said. “Russia, the international community, and Al-Assad personally must admit the fact that the Syrian regime is finished and its leader must choose between falling down peacefully or after destroying the country.”
A day later, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Assad to immediately implement the deal and said, “I urge President Assad to carry out these obligations immediately.”
On Thursday, Arab foreign ministers preparing to meet in Baghdad called on Syria’s government to hold talks with the opposition and to end the violence.
Thus far, Assad has ignored the agreement despite the commitments he made; on Wednesday, government forces continued their assault on villages throughout the country, and several across the border in Lebanon as they pursued rebels and Syrian civilians alike. Troops also seized control of the central city of Kalat el-Mudik, completing a 17-day siege of the area.