Syrians walk through blood and debris in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, after a raid by Syrian troops killed several rebels and civilians Thursday.
Syria’s year-long conflict must end at 6:00 a.m. local time on April 12, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said Thursday, amid reports violence in the country had worsened despite a promise by the regime to withdraw its troops from cities.
Annan told the U.N. General Assembly: "We must silence the tanks, helicopters, mortars, guns and stop all other forms of violence too - sexual abuse, torture, executions, abductions, destruction of homes, forced displacement and other abuses, including on children.”
Earlier this week, Syria publicly accepted an official deadline of April 10 to begin withdrawing government troops from urban centers and flashpoints such as the battered city of Homs.
That peace proposal also includes a second deadline, applying to all sides in the conflict, requiring them to “cease armed violence in all its forms” at 6:00 a.m. Syrian time on April 12 (11:00 p.m. ET on April 11).
Syria has told the U.N. it has begun withdrawals, but there were still reports of violence in the country – including attempts by the army to prevent civilians from escaping gunfire. In Damascus, fresh blood was visible on the streets.
A man calling himself Abu Mustafa, speaking from Zabadani near the Lebanon border, told Reuters: "They are complete liars, there is no army withdrawal, they are still in the middle of the city. They fired on the city this morning, like they do every day,"
However, he did acknowledge a pullback. "The army withdrew 15 tanks yesterday, but the rest are all around the checkpoints as usual," he said.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told msnbc.com in an email on Thursday afternoon that at least 33 people, including 14 soldiers, were killed in the past 24 hours.
Anita McNaught, reporter for Arab news channel Al Jazeera, reported from the Turkey-Syria border that families were still fleeing the country for their safety.
"The Syrian army is bombing all around the governates of Idlib and Aleppo," she said. "The way the Syrian army has positioned itself now is to cut off escape routes.”
In a report from Beirut, the BBC's Jim Muir said activists “are giving the clear impression that the Syrian regime is having a final crack at rebels before the ceasefire deadline”.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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