U.S. preparing for Syria peace plan failure
In this April 23, 2012 photo, Syrian protestors gather around U.N. observers during their visit in Douma near the capital of Damascus, Syria. / AP Photo
(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is preparing for the potential failure of former U.N. chief Kofi Annan's plan to end the violence in Syria and will take additional steps against the Syrian government if it does.
Clinton on Tuesday condemned reports that U.N. ceasefire monitors have been unable to do their job properly and that violence is continuing. She said the U.S. and its allies are committed to Annan's plan and want it to succeed. But she said there is no faith that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government will comply with it.
Anticipating failure, Clinton said work was under way to come up with additional U.S. sanctions to further punish and isolate the Assad regime.
Meanwhile, Annan himself told the U.N. Security Council that the situation in Syria is "bleak," expressing particular alarm at reports that government troops entered the central city of Hama firing automatic weapons, killing a number of people.
He echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in calling the current situation "unacceptable" and called on the Syrian government to immediately implement his six-point peace-plan.
In his closed briefing Tuesday to the council, which was obtained by the Associated Press and CBS News, he urged the government and opposition to respect the April 12 cease-fire.
Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk that the dispatch of additional international observers to Syria "depends on the secretary-general's assessment of conditions on the ground and could start next week."
The killing of dozens of civilians in Hama after U.N. observers left shows the complexity of the U.N. mission in Syria. Few, if any diplomats at the U.N. are very optimistic about the peace plan.
Satellite imagery and other credible reports show that, despite its claims, Syria has failed to withdraw all of its heavy weapons from populated areas as required by Annan's cease-fire deal.
Right now, there are only a small number of monitors on the ground in Syria, but the U.N. Security Council has authorized up to 300.
"With 11 or 12 monitors, you can't be everywhere, and there are many cities that have seen destruction and have seen fighting, and we have to be present," Fawzi said. "With up to 300, we will be able to monitor more cities than two to three at a time."
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