Morocco urges Russia to press Syria on ceasefire


Morocco’s foreign minister urged Russia to press the Syrian government to adhere to a ceasefire and withdraw forces from cities in accordance with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

A six-day-old truce has held in some parts of Syria since President Bashar al-Assad pledged to enforce it last week. But in areas where the opposition is strong the army has continued to attack and fight the rebels, using heavy weapons in violation of the pledge by Damascus to pull back.
“We continue to wish Annan’s mission success and believe the Russian Federation can play an effective role in convincing the Syrian government to respect the ceasefire regime and the conditions for the withdrawal of forces from cities,” Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani, speaking through a translator, told a news conference after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Reuters reports.

Moscow has pledged its full support for Annan’s peace plan and last week called on the Syrian government to step up implementation, but has also put much of the blame for the bloodshed on the opposition forces.

Lavrov reiterated Russia’s calls on Western and Arab states to ensure the government’s armed opponents comply with the ceasefire.

Citing media reports, he said there was ample evidence that “the armed opposition is trying to … provoke the renewal of violence in order to break the ceasefire” and ensure Annan’s plan fail in hopes of securing foreign intervention.