Syrian forces pounded cities across the nation, opposition activists said, as a United Nations-brokered deadline for a troop withdrawal came and went Tuesday
At least 40 people, including three children, were killed Tuesday; 25 were in the besieged city of Homs, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. Tuesday's toll continues a shocking surge in violence and atrocities ahead of the deadline for troops to withdraw.
The Syrian government, however, said it had taken steps to abide by the peace plan laid out by U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan.
"We did withdraw some military units from some provinces, in accordance with point C of Annan's plan," Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said after meeting with Russia's foreign minister in Moscow.
President Bashar al-Assad's regime had agreed to the deadline, but demanded that its opponents, whom it calls armed terrorists, put down their weapons. Damascus also wanted a promise from foreign governments not to fund opposition groups.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Syrian government could have been more active in implementing the peace plan, but he urged heightened international pressure on opposition groups.
"But on the other hand," he said, "we cannot overlook the fact that Kofi Annan's proposals have not been agreed to by some of the opposition groups including the well-known Syrian National Council."
Sheikh Anas Airout, a senior member of the council, told CNN that Annan did not get an agreement from the opposition body but that the Free Syrian Army, the main armed opposition group made up mainly of defected soldiers, provided an explicit commitment to abide by the cease-fire as long as the regime stopped its attacks.
With both the regime and rebel fighters refusing to back down until the other side does, prospects paled for an end to the fighting. And the bloodshed continued unabated.FULL STORY