Peace envoy Kofi Annan has arrived in Damascus today for what will be a third round of talks with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Reports (from AFP, Al Jazeera and Reuters UK respectively) indicate that this trip takes place as the U.N. Security Council remains split on the Syrian situation as do the regional powers. Annan has only a few hours ago admitted in an interview given to the French Le Monde newspaper that his peace plan has been a failure. He stated that "the evidence shows that we have not succeeded."
He also stated that "Russia wields influence" with regard to the conflict but he is "not sure that the events will be determined by Russia alone." He continued to state that "Iran is an actor. It has to be part of the solution. It has influence and we cannot ignore it." He went on to express irritation about the focus of the western powers on the Russian and Iranian supply of arms to the regime when "little is said about other countries [probably a reference to Qatar and Saudi Arabia] which send arms, money, and have a presence on the ground."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also warned that time is running out for the Syrian regime stating that "it should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime their days are numbered."
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also stated that "President Assad must understand that things cannot continue as they are. Fundamental change is needed."
Assad has in turn blamed the failure of the plan on the United States claiming "they offer the umbrella and political support to those gangs to... destabilize Syria." and continued to slam the United States for giving political support, arms and finance to "terrorists in Syria."
These respective comments come amidst not only a failed peace plan, but continued violence, the latest toll claimed by the ongoing unrest is now estimated to be 17,000 by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Today alone (Sunday 9 July 2012) some 99 people mostly civilians have been killed across the country.
Syria has recently received condemnation for an artillery attack on a Lebanese border area which caused several deaths and injuries.