(Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council in a letter on Friday there has been little progress toward peace in the 14-month-old conflict between Syrian government forces and an increasingly militarized opposition.
Ban assessed progress in international peace envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, which called for a truce, withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from cities, deployment of the monitoring force, and dialogue between the government and opposition aimed at a Syrian-led “political transition.”
Here are key quotes from his letter on each point:
“UNSMIS (U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria) also observed continued Syrian Army troop concentrations and heavy weapons in population centers ... on numerous occasions, UNSMIS has observed armored personnel carriers and, less frequently, tanks.
“UNSMIS observers reported hearing small arms and heavy weapons fire and explosions regularly, in all of their locations, particularly at night. The intensity of such activities has been uneven.
“On several occasions, UNSMIS has heard the sound, or seen evidence, of shelling in population centers.
“Armed opposition groups said that the government was carrying out heavy shelling at night, outside the view of military observers. The government has countered that armed groups are provoking government forces by firing at them, and that it will continue to respond.”
“There are continuing reports that thousands of Syrians are being detained in a network of government-run facilities of different kinds.
“The pace and scale of access to, and release, of detainees is unacceptable given the commitment of the government ... other groups should also release those deprived of their freedom under their control.”
“There has been some, but not enough, improvement in entry and freedom of movement of journalists in Syria. The Joint Special Envoy has been informed of a total of 166 international journalists who had received visas since the Syrian Government’s agreement to the six-point plan.
“They are often only permitted short stays that do not facilitate in-depth reporting.”
“The obligation of the Syrian government to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully is clearly not being observed ... It is clear that the broad context of intimidation and human rights violations does not constitute an environment in which citizens can express their opinions or demonstrate freely.”
“The fighting has caused significant displacement within the country and refugee flows to neighboring states. The number of Syrians in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, currently estimated at 1 million, may well increase if the crisis continues.”
“The mission is expected to attain full military strength before the end of the month.
“The government has cooperated to support the establishment of the mission ... nonetheless, some military observers and civilian staff are yet to receive visas ... The issue of the use of independent air assets remains under discussion.”
“At the heart of the Syrian crisis are extensive human rights violations and denial of the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. In this context, real progress in implementing all elements of the six-point plan is essential, if confidence in the possibility of a credible political process is to be created.
“There is a growing impatience with the status quo, but also a lack of confidence in the possibility of genuine transformation. While many fear the implications of a further militarization of the conflict, some have doubts that peaceful change is possible.”
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Stacey Joyce