* Annan to brief Security Council on Monday
* Violence claims more lives after 70 on Sunday
* No sign of army pullout from flashpoint cities
By Erika Solomon and Dominic Evans
BEIRUT, April 2 Syrian government forces
bombarded opposition targets in the city of Homs on Monday
despite President Bashar al-Assad's promise to international
peace envoy Kofi Annan to cease fire and withdraw his tanks and
Annan, who met Assad in Damascus last week to discuss his
peace plan, was due to brief the U.N. Security Council in New
York later on Monday on whether he had seen any progress towards
"Today doesn't feel much different than yesterday or the day
before, or the day before that," opposition activist Waleed
Fares said from inside Homs. "Shelling and killing."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based
activist operation which collates reports from around Syria,
reported 70 people killed on Sunday, including 12 civilian
victims of shelling and sniper fire in Homs.
Nineteen soldiers and 12 rebels were killed in clashes, it
In Syria's second city of Aleppo, a bomb blast on Monday at
a kiosk killed the owner, an Assad supporter, it said. At least
two people were killed and eight wounded in army bombardments of
villages in northern Idlib province.
Pro-opposition areas of Homs have been under assault from
government forces since early February, making the city a symbol
of the year-long uprising against decades of Assad family rule
and galvanising internatonal efforts to end the bloodshed.
Annan demanded last week that Assad immediately halt
military action, and rebels of the Free Syrian Army rebels said
they would stop shooting if he pulled heavy weaponry out of
But Assad said he must maintain security in urban areas.
"It seems like the government took Kofi Annan's plan the
opposite way round," Fares said. "Annan said to withdraw tanks,
they bring more. He said to stop shelling, they shelled more."
The United Nations says Syrian soldiers and security forces
have killed more than 9,000 people over the past 12 months.
Damascus says rebels have killed 3,000 troops and police.
Assad blames the unrest on foreign-backed "terrorists" and
has put forward his own reform programme, which his domestic
foes and international opponents have dismissed.
On Monday, the official SANA news agency reported that plans
for an election on May 7 were going ahead in which Syrians would
be able to choose "whom they sit fit to represent them."
That is unlikely to mute international efforts to force
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in
Istanbul on Sunday, said the Assad government had a long list of
broken promises and would face serious consequences if it did
not halt actions targetting civilians.
The United States will provide communications gear to the
opposition and was discussing expanding support with its allies,
However Washington has shown little appetite for arming the
rebels and is putting its faith for now in the Annan plan.
If that plan falters, the next steps from the international
community could include a return to the U.N. Security Council
for a firm resolution and to increase pressure on Assad's allies
Russia and China to get tough on Damascus.
If Annan, a former U.N. chief and Nobel peace laureate,
signals progress, diplomats say work could start on a resolution
to send 200 to 250 unarmed U.N. observers to Syria to monitor an
Ministers from the United States, Europe and Arab countries
met as the Friends of Syria grouping in Istanbul on Sunday and
said Assad did not have much time to meet his commitments to
Annan, which include ceasefire, troop withdrawals from cities
and access for humanitarian aid.
It left it to Annan to determine a timetable or what action
to take if the killing went on.
Russia, China and Iran were absent, reflecting the divided
international response to Syria's crisis.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday
that Annan's plan should be judged by the U.N. Security Council
and not by the Friends of Syria.
"The Security Council will judge who should implement his
proposals, and how," Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as
The Istanbul meeting made no mention of arming the Free
Syrian Army, as advocated by some Gulf Arab states.
It recognised the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC)
as a legitimate representative of all Syrians but fell short of
offering it full recognition, a reflection on the disunity of an
opposition movement which includes civilian activists, armed
rebels and political exiles.
Although Western powers have been wary of military
intervention, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sounded
an alarm bell, comparing the situation to Bosnia in the 1990s.
"In the case of Bosnia, the international community was too
slow therefore we lost many people," he said. "In the case of
Syria we have to act without delay."