The continuing violence despite the ceasefire implemented earlier this month has raised fresh concerns about the Syrian crisis. UN special envoy Kofi Annan, whose six-point peace plan was agreed to by Damascus, has rightly called the post-ceasefire violence unacceptable.
But the question is if the rapid deployment of more UN observers as urged by Annan could deter the killings and violence that have shown no sign of abatement so far. The government's justification for using arms in some incidents has been the usual excuse of taking action against armed miscreants who are exploiting the situation and targeting civilians.
Initial reports from UN observers already in the country have, however, recorded a reneging of the ceasefire's terms by the government. This is unfortunate, more so, when other reports note how the government forces are constantly breaching the agreement. While the reports by opposition activists are yet to be validated, the UN has noted, that as per agreement, the government has not even withdrawn heavy weaponary from many neighbourhoods. The case against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad is getting stronger by the day. Allegations of duplicity and actual disregard of the peace agreement are being confirmed by no other than the Syrian regime itself. While the UN is hoping that deployment of hundreds of observers will help in halting the violence, some other world powers are of the view that collective strict action needs to be taken against Assad. The option of Security Council sanctions or military intervention, however, is doubtful unless Russia and China agree. At present, both are pressing for the UN peace plan to be given a chance.
Considering it is early days since the ceasefire came into effect, one can hope for things to improve, despite the bleak reports from Damascus. It is still hoped that the Syrian government falls in line and respects the international agreement in totality.
This does require Syria's allies to pressure Assad to respect the UN peace plan and prove its commitment to achieving stability through peaceful means. The onus is on Assad to demonstrate restraint and hold back state force even if it means more freedom for the opposition.
Once the government shows that it is adhering to its part of the commitment, the UN with the help of the world community can rein in the opposition forces, if they are found to be reneging the same agreement that is also applicable to them. Peace must be given a chance after the heinous violence that has claimed more than 10,000 lives since last year and it is something both sides need to work towards.
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