DAMASCUS: Syria has demanded guarantees that armed groups cease fire before withdrawing its troops from protest hubs as agreed with special envoy Kofi Annan, even as a UN truce deadline loomed. The foreign ministry’s request came as a weekend escalation in violence claimed almost 170 lives, most of them civilians, ahead of the UN deadline of Tuesday for regime forces to cease fire. The surge in bloodshed prompted harsh words from Annan who said the escalation was “unacceptable.” Monitors said 38 people were killed on Sunday, a day after nearly 130 died across Syria, while 200 others were arrested in raids by government forces pushing to crush dissent.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2012.
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