Kofi Annan Resigns as U.N. Envoy to Syria

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Kofi Annan Resigns – Frustrated by his inability to bring a sense of peace to the conflict in Syria, Kofi Annan submitted his resignation today from his role as the U.N. special envoy to the conflict. United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Annan’s resignation today in a statement that said Annan will not “renew his mandate” when it expires at the end of August. Annan, former Secretary General of the U.N. himself, is one of the world’s most respected and level-headed leaders.

“Tragically, the spiral of violence in Syria is continuing,” Ban said in his statement announcing Mr. Annan’s resignation. “The hand extended to turn away from violence in favor of dialogue and diplomacy — as spelled out in the Six-Point Plan — has not been taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria.”

President Bashar al-Assad had pledged to follow a six-point peace plan brokered by Annan four months ago, but the Syrian government never implemented the plan.

While the Syrian conflict still is not considered a civil war, the conflict between Assad’s government and the rebels who rose up against him 17 months ago has grown violent and intense. In recent days, forces acting under Assad were responsible for at least 120 deaths in Aleppo, the country’s commercial center, and Damascus, the formal capital. Rebels have occupied eight of Aleppo’s neighborhoods, and currently control the road leading to the Turkish border, but are being targeted by heavy fire from the military.

Approximately 200,000 people have left Aleppo and the surrounding region as the conflict continues to escalate. Due to the very urban environment and central roads occupied by fighters on both sides, humanitarian groups have struggled to provide aid to displaced families. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes that Assad’s continued use of deadly force will only go to bolster the rebellion against the government.

“It’s pretty clear that Aleppo is another tragic example of the kind of indiscriminate violence that the Assad regime has committed against its own people,” Panetta said. “If they continue this kind of tragic attack on their own people, it’ll ultimately be a nail in Assad’s coffin.”

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