UN chief: There is no 'plan B' for ending the Syrian conflict
At least 200 have died in Syria in the two months since a UN-backed cease-fire went into effect, but Ban Ki-moon rejects assertions that part of the problem is the low number of monitors on the ground.
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Syria's Day Press News reports that President Assad told a special envoy from Iran yesterday that Syria has "overcome the pressures and challenges that faced it" and will emerge from the crisis "thanks to its people's steadfastness and adherence to its unity and independence."Skip to next paragraph
Middle East Editor
Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog.
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In his television interview Mr. Ban told Christiane Amanpour, the host of the program, that violence has been "dampened" by the deployment of 300 UN monitors throughout the country, but acknowledged that the complete cessation of violence was far off. However, he dismissed the assertion by Ms. Amanpour – who compared the UN monitors' job to "trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon" – that the problem was the low number of monitors in the country.
"Of course it's not a matter of a number of monitors. We have almost 300 [inaudible] number of monitors. … They are deployed in seven cities, including Damascus ... Homs, Hama, Idlib, Aleppo. They are patrolling every day wherever possible. They try their best to cease this violence. [Inaudible] strong political will at the level of President Assad and also it requires full cooperation by the opposition forces," Ban said. "There are so many spoilers at this time which really make the situation very difficult. We have not been able to commence a political dialogue."
Despite the seeming intractability of the conflict and signs it could be spilling over into Lebanon, Ban seemed to dismiss a suggestion from Amanpour that the UN might consider an intervention like the one authorized in Libya.
While not outright rejecting her suggestion, Ban did not acknowledge it, instead responding, "The Security Council members, when they are united, they can make a huge impact to maintaining peace and security of the international community."
At least 10 people have been killed in Lebanon in the past two weeks in violence linked to Syria's own unrest. According to Lebanese officials, armed gunmen in Syria kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims earlier this week, prompting protests in Beirut, Associated Press reports.