Major international powers meeting in Paris on Thursday called a U.N.-backed peace plan the “last hope” to resolve the Syrian crisis and said they would do all they could to help it succeed, according to draft conclusions obtained by Reuters, as the Syrian rebels called for outside military intervention against the regime even without U.N. Security Council approval.
“Every day that passes means tens of new Syrian civilian deaths,” the statement said. “It is not time to prevaricate. It is time to act. Though fragile, the (Kofi) Annan mission represents a last hope.”
The meeting resolved that the “Friends of Syria” -- which include France, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- would do everything to ensure the Arab League-U.N. plan succeeded.
“If this were not to happen ... the U.N. Security Council and international community would have to look at other options,” the statement said.
The group said it wanted the U.N. observers in Syria to be given all the “necessary means” to complete their mission including having all modern equipment that would enable them to ensure efficient surveillance.
The 14 nations said they were concerned by the worsening humanitarian situation and its impact on neighboring countries and were committed to providing humanitarian aid in all forms.
Possible civil war
France, meanwhile, said that Bashar al-Assad’s regime had failed to comply with the U.N. peace plan and warned of civil war unless foreign monitors are given the means to oversee a ceasefire.
“The Annan plan is a chance for peace, a chance that should not be missed,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said at the conference, according to AFP.
“The opposition has fulfilled its obligations under the Annan plan, which was welcomed by the Syrian National Council,” he said, referring to the main umbrella body representing the diverse anti-regime forces.
“The groups on the ground have respected the ceasefire, despite the fact that coordination between them has been made very hard by the provocations of the regime,” he argued.
He called for tougher sanctions against Damascus and for the small U.N. observer team on the ground to be increased in size and made “robust and credible” by being given land and air transport to cover the country.
“The Annan plan is a guarantee of peace and freedom -- its failure the path to civil, even regional, war. Let us face our responsibility,” he said, urging world powers to back the U.N. and Arab League peace efforts.
Tough U.N. sanctions
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that world powers should push for tough United Nations sanctions against Syria in order to force Assad’s regime to comply with a U.N. peace plan.
“We need to start moving very vigorously in the Security Council for a Chapter Seven sanctions resolution, including travel, financial sanctions, an arms embargo,” Clinton told international envoys at talks in Paris.
But Clinton admitted that Russia -- which has a veto on the Security Council -- would probably not allow such a motion to pass, and said in the meantime states would have to seek further diplomatic and economic sanctions.
One measure, she said, would be for NATO to invoke its mutual defense treaty in response to “outrageous” shelling by Syria on its northern border with Turkey, a member of the NATO alliance.
Trying to stop the massacre
Addressing reporters at the end of the conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Fisal said that there is a massacre going on in Syria and “we all are trying to stop it.”
“The world does not permit the innocent people in Syria to get arms to defend themselves,” prince Fisal said.
“The Arab states are ready to provide arms to the Syrian people to defend themselves,” Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani said.
Meanwhile, the rebel Free Syrian Army called for outside military intervention against the Damascus regime even without U.N. Security Council approval, in a video posted online on Thursday.
General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh, who heads the SLA military council, charged that the government, unlike rebel fighters had failed, to respect a ceasefire deal agreed with Annan.
He called for “the formation of a military alliance of countries friendly to the Syrian people, without U.N. Security Council approval, to carry out surgical strikes on key installations of the regime.”
Russia and China have blocked strong Security Council action on the 13-month-old crisis in Syria.