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Damascus: International envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged the failure so far of his mission to bring peace to Syria, as more than 60 people were killed in violence today that also spilled over into Lebanon.
In comments published by French newspaper Le Monde, Annan was quoted as saying that significant efforts had been made to try to resolve the crisis peacefully and politically. However, the plan had not been successful and perhaps there was no guarantee that it would succeed, he said. The Annan plan, which insists on a cessation of violence by all sides, has made little headway, and activists say more than 17,000 people have now died since the uprising began in March last year.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called yesterday for scaling down an observer mission in Syria to refocus on political efforts to end the bloodshed. The former UN chief spoke of the importance of Russia -- a Damascus ally which has so far blocked international action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime -- while stressing that Iran should be involved in discussions.
The UN-Arab League envoy, whose plan called for a ceasefire that has been ignored on a daily basis since April, said Syria's ally Iran had a role to play in efforts to end the crisis despite US opposition.
On the ground, Syrian forces bombarded towns in the northern province of Aleppo in violence today that claimed at least 60 lives across the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Regime forces are attempting to regain control over this (Aleppo) region, where they suffered heavy casualties over the past months," the Britain-based Observatory said.