On Location in Syria: Why U.N. Ceasefire Isn’t Working

BY Larisa Epatko  June 6, 2012 at 3:02 PM EST

In Syria, a rebel uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and the regime’s crackdown continue to spill blood on both sides despite international envoy Kofi Annan’s U.N.-backed proposed ceasefire.

The violence stops temporarily where U.N. observers go, but the effort is “too little and too late to stop the killing,” said university professor and activist Abdul Aziz Agini in the GlobalPost video posted below.

“It’s true the regime is not killing people in sight of the observers, but the observers can’t see the whole country,” Agini said. “Syria is such a big country, (and it) cannot be covered with a few numbers of observers like this.”

Tracey Shelton reports on the failing ceasefire and the toll the fighting is taking on Syrians in this video: (Warning: graphic imagery)

“I’ve been reporting throughout the Idlib district and the mountains of (rebel stronghold) Jabal al-Zawiya,” in northwestern Syria, she told us via email. “I saw so many similar victims who had lost family, reported stories of torture, and been shot by snipers in the cities, and I also witnessed helicopter fire and shelling of towns from neighboring villages.”

The people she interviewed in her video report represent many other cases in the troubled Middle Eastern country, she said.

(Read her report on how Syrian forces are targeting hospitals and other ways people are seeking treatment.)

Neither the Syrian government nor opposition forces are adhering to the ceasefire. Free Syrian Army leader Abdul al-Sheikh told Shelton he would never accept peace talks with Assad. “After a year of killing people, the regime has proved they do not understand any dialogue other than force. We will never agree to peace talks until this regime is gone,” he said.

On Wednesday, a Friends of the Syrian People working group made up of officials from more than 55 countries met in Washington, D.C., to discuss increasing financial pressure on the Assad government to try to stop the fighting.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged the Arab League to adopt sanctions, as Turkey, the United States and European Union have done. He also raised the possibility of “Chapter 7″ in the United Nations charter, which could authorize the use of force.

“Absent meaningful compliance by the regime with the Annan plan, that is the direction in which we are soon headed,” he said.

(Read his full remarks as prepared for delivery.)

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