Hague hints at harder line if regime shuns Syria peace plan

Foreign Secretary says UN resolution may allow 'further measures' if Assad ignores ceasefire


Bashar al-Assad's regime is flouting the Kofi Annan plan for ending the violence in Syria and punitive action can be taken if it is in breach of the United Nations resolution on the crisis, William Hague declared yesterday amid rising calls for intervention in the country.

As an international meeting of the "Friends of Syria" states took place in Paris, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused the regime, which yesterday agreed a deal outlining rules for the deployment of observers to monitor Mr Annan's ceasefire plan, of failing to show it was committed to peace. He also called for an expanded mission of at least 300 observers – 50 more than the regime has said it will accept – to monitor violations of the ceasefire. Only a small advance team of observers is currently in the country.

At the same time, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, claimed that a humanitarian corridor was now imperative. He accused President Assad of "lying shamelessly" and "trying to wipe Homs off the map just like Gaddafi wanted to raze Benghazi from the map".

Speaking at a Nato meeting in Brussels, Mr Hague said that "for the first time in 15 months we have a security resolution that sets out what they need to do to implement the Annan plan, which includes a real ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from populated areas.

"So if they [the regime] are in breach of that resolution, the UN Security Council is entitled to consider what further measures can be taken. I don't want at this stage to speculate about those measures but we and many others would want to return to this very vigorously," he said.

Russia and China have refused to back repeated attempts to involve the UN in the Syrian uprising, pointing out that a resolution on Libya to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilians was used to mount an air campaign which ensured regime change. However, Moscow and Beijing did vote for Security Council resolution 2042 putting the peace plan brokered by Mr Annan into effect.

The UK will "intensify" support for the Syrian opposition and provide an additional £4m in aid for refugees. A UN-sponsored survey by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre found that the numbers of civilians uprooted since the uprising began had risen to 230,000.

Mr Hague pointed out the dire humanitarian situation and said he had asked the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to press President Assad to end hostilities. He continued: "Russia did help last week to put pressure on the Assad regime to ostensibly accept the Annan plan, to accept a ceasefire. And that is why we look to Russia to continue to be helpful in saying to the Assad regime, 'look if this breaks down, the whole world will be able to see who's responsible'."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato Secretary-General, has maintained during this summit that Nato does not want to get involved in Syria, particularly as there is no legal mandate to do so. However, the crisis has been discussed by delegates. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the US had been sending a significant amount of non-lethal supplies, including communications equipment.

Mr Lavrov, speaking at the Nato conference, accused the West of turning a blind eye to attacks by rebels, while pillorying the regime. "There are armed groups which are being supplied with weapons by outside countries, there have been terrorist bombings in Damascus and Aleppo. But we are supposed to believe that all that is happening is the Syrian government [is] using tanks to shoot down demonstrators," he said.

He claimed that the "so-called 'Friends of Syria'" group – which includes the US and Britain – was being "unhelpful" in promoting the peace process, saying that its uncritical support was encouraging the opposition not to compromise.

"It is up to everyone to help the Kofi Annan plan," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions