Syrian Ceasefire Pact in Tatters, US Worries Conflict Could Escalate
(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- United Nations special emissary Kofi Annan's appeal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to take "bold steps" to end the violence in his country has fallen on deaf ears.
With no guarantee from al-Assad that the 15-month-long crackdown on his enemies would stop, Annan left Damascus on Wednesday with his six-point ceasefire plan in virtual tatters.
A massacre of more than 100 villagers in the central Syrian town of Houla late last week has galvanized world opinion against al-Assad's government, but without muscle to back it up, the fighting on both sides continues unabated. There was also a report Wednesday of U.N. observers discovering the bodies of 13 people who were killed execution-style.
With Annan having flown to Jordan, the U.N. Security Council received a briefing from one of Annan's deputies about the lack of progress made since the ceasefire pact went into effect on April 12.
Afterwards, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the breakdown of any coherent plan to stop the violence that has accounted for anywhere between 9,000 and 12,000 deaths since March 2011 could escalate into a wider sectarian conflict that would draw in Syria's neighbors, turning it into a major regional war.
Despite the threat of putting more pressure on al-Assad to end the violence, Rice acknowledged that some within the U.N. Security Council are reluctant to impose more sanctions on Syria. The likely opponents are al-Assad's allies, Russia and China.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio