Kofi Annan meets Syria leader Bashar Assad to try and revive ceasefire plan
In this photo dated May 29, 2012 released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria (JSE) Kofi Annan, left, listens to Syrian President Bashar Assad speak during a meeting in Damascus, Syria. / AP/SANA
(CBS/AP) DAMASCUS - International envoy Kofi Annan met Tuesday with Syrian President Bashar Assad in an effort to salvage Annan's faltering six-point plan to end more than 14 months of violence in the country.
CBS News' George Baghdadi reports that Annan arrived Monday after expressing horror at the massacre of more than 100 people - including dozens of women and children - in the villages which make up Houla in Syria's north last week.
It wasn't immediately clear how the meeting between Annan and the embattled Syrian leader went.
The United Nations has said government forces fired shells and heavy artillery at residential areas in Houla, but the world body stopped short of blaming Assad's regime directly for all the killings.
Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general himself, said upon his arrival to the Syrian capital that those responsible for the massacre must be held to account, and urged "everyone with a gun" to abide by his six-point ceasefire plan.
The United Nations human rights office said Tuesday that the global body's investigators had concluded that children were among almost 90 people summarily executed in Houla on Friday.
A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said U.N. monitors found that less than 20 of the 108 people killed died from artillery fire.
Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva that most of the other victims were summarily executed in two separate incidents. Activists had previously said that most of those killed in were the victims of pro-government thugs who stormed the area.
The Houla killings prompted sweeping international condemnation and the harshest language yet from Syrian ally Russia potentially making it a turning point in the crisis that has killed more than 9,000 people.
Syrian Vice Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad told reporters Tuesday as he escorted the international envoy to the presidential palace that Damascus was committed to see Annan's plan succeed.
"We have done all the arrangements needed and we provided all the facilities so that the (U.N.) mission does what is necessary. There wasn't a single violation from our side, unlike the other party (rebel forces) which did not commit to the primary understanding with the U.N.," the Syrian official said.
Syrian opposition groups, the U.S. and its allies, and even the U.N. have rejected that argument, saying both the government and the rebels are guilty of violating the ceasefire agreement. The U.S. and its European allies have accused the Assad regime of using the pretext of the Annan plan as a means of continuing the vicious assault on Syrian citizens.
Miqdad, however, blamed the failure of Annan's plan to take hold squarely on "the opposition and the countries which are financing and arming the opposition."
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