Reports on the situation in Syria continue to disappoint those who had hoped the presence of U.N. observers would have curbed the alleged killings of the Syrian people by the Assad regime. Activists have told the BBC that nearly 70 people were killed on Monday, with most deaths coming at the hands of a government crackdown in the city of Hama.
The UN is pressing to increase its monitors from a handful to 300 and chief envoy Kofi Annan is currently briefing the Security Council again.
A UN-brokered ceasefire came into effect on 12 April, but although the overall level of violence has dropped since then, President Bashar al-Assad’s government has been accused of failing to abide by key terms of the truce plan.
Mr Annan’s spokesman said there were credible reports that people who met monitors were then approached and sometimes killed by security forces.
As of now only 11, unarmed, military observers remain of the UN resolution dispatch of a 30-strong “rapid response team” ten days ago.
With the UN solution failing to end violence, The Washington Post now reports that evidence is growing to suggest that Islamic extremists are seeking to join the opposition movement:
Activists and rebel soldiers based inside Syria say a small but growing number of Islamist radicals affiliated with global jihadi movements have been arriving in opposition strongholds in recent weeks and attempting to rally support among disaffected residents.
Western diplomats say they have tracked a steady trickle of jihadists flowing into Syria from Iraq, and Jordan’s government last week detained at least four alleged Jordanian militants accused of trying to sneak into Syria to join the revolutionaries.
Michael Totten blogged in World Affairs Journal Monday that the longer the U.S. holds back from supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, the more likely someone else, like Islamic extremists, will.
Totten joined the “Real News” panel Tuesday to discuss the situation in Syria now, and previous situations where the lack of western support resulted in jihadists taking hold of opposition movements.
Totten commented on the show Tuesday that there is no way the United States can ensure that jihadists do not get involved in Syria, but if we can come to the revolutionaries with more substantial support soon, we can better influence the direction the Free Syrian Army goes.
Totten agreed with panelist Jedediah Bila that sanctions are off the table at this point as a realistic option to end the violence going on in Syria.
“The situation we’ve got in Syria right now, you’ve got the government, and you’ve got a large sector of the population that are in a death struggle with each other,” said Totten, going on to add that power and livelihood are at stake for the government, and “Assad could go out the way of Gaddafi.”
“Assad is fighting for his life, as well as fighting for power.”