UN Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan on Monday said that he had reached an agreement with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to end the violent conflict in the country. Annan, who met with Al-Assad on Monday, said the president was committed to ending violence in Syria [UN News Centre report] and that he would continue to work with the UN to achieve peace. Annan said that Al-Assad reaffirmed the Syrian government's commitment to implementing the six-point peace plan [JURIST report] generated at the end of June. The plan is designed to aid Syria in ending the violence that has occurred in the country over the last 16 months. It outlines steps that the international community and Syria must take for a successful transition, including ending violence, providing access for humanitarian groups to reach those in need, releasing detainees, beginning inclusive political dialogue and permitting unrestricted access to both Syrian and international media outlets. Annan added that the government must implement the plan "in a much better fashion than has been the situation so far."
Syria has been plagued with violence over the past year and a half, and human rights groups have blamed both the government and anti-government groups for the resulting deaths. Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that Syrian authorities have been maintaining secret detention facilities [JURIST report] to hold and torture prisoners. In June, a UN commission stated that Syrian forces "may have been responsible" for the killing of more than 100 civilians [JURIST report] in Al-Houla in May. Al-Assad, however, said earlier in June that the government had nothing to do with it [JURIST report] and that "not even monsters" would carry out those attacks. In April the UN Security Council approved a resolution [JURIST report] to send 300 unarmed soldiers and other humanitarian aid to supervise the implementation of a peace plan. This came after HRW released a report [JURIST report] stating that Syrian security forces had killed more than 100 civilians and opposition fighters in recent attacks. In March, HRW also reported on and linked to videos of Syrian forces rounding up civilians [JURIST report], including women and children, and forcing them to walk in front of soldiers and tanks during troop movements and attacks so that opposition fighters would not shoot at them.