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Syria truce claim is 'blatant lie', says France

Two Syrian cities are under bombardment on the day Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had agreed to comply with a UN brokered peace plan. ITN's Paul Davies reports.

Syria's assurance that its forces are complying with a cease-fire deal have been condemned as a "blatant lie" by France, as 32 people were reportedly killed even after guns were supposed to be silent.

In scarcely diplomatic language, the French foreign ministry spokesman said: "The Syrian foreign minister's statements this morning, affirming an initial implementation of the Annan plan by the Damascus regime, are a fresh expression of this blatant and unacceptable lie.”


"They are indicative of a feeling of impunity against which the international community absolutely must react," the spokesman, Bernard Valero, told reporters in Paris.

Visiting Moscow, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem had earlier said troops were already pulling back from cities in line with a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.

But, citing Syrian sources and satellite images, Valero said "none of the elements" of Annan's plan had been implemented.

"There is what the regime's representatives are saying and then there is the reality," he said. "On average 100 people are dying each day and it continues. Today, Syrian security forces are still firing on populated areas and using heavy weapons, armored vehicles and helicopters. That's the reality."

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The worst bloodshed on Tuesday was in the city of Homs, where shelling of opposition districts killed at least 26, activists said. Opposition groups said there was no sign of a military pullout, with tanks still in cities such as Homs and Hama.

Nor did rebels immediately stop shooting. The anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said insurgents killed six soldiers in attacks on checkpoints on an eastern desert road.

As the end-of-day deadline loomed for Damascus to implement the ceasefire plan, -Moualem demanded guarantees from the peace plan’s author, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, that armed insurgents would also honor any truce.

"We will not ask the terrorist groups, which are killing, kidnapping and destroying infrastructure, for guarantees. We want Annan to give us these guarantees," Moualem said in Moscow.

The last-minute demand, a variant of one Syria made at the weekend, is not mentioned in Annan's proposals and looks designed to complicate his struggle to get all parties to comply with a six-point plan that is so far largely a dead letter.

The rebel Free Syrian Army will fight on if Assad fails to withdraw troops and tanks from in and around cities as required, a spokesman, Colonel Qassem Saad al-Deen, told Reuters.

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The opposition Syrian National Council said a partial ceasefire was unacceptable and government forces should stop all violence on Tuesday. Its spokeswoman, Basma Kodmani, also told a news conference in Geneva that arrests, house demolitions and shelling by tanks and anti-aircraft guns were continuing.

An Arab League monitoring effort collapsed in January as intensifying violence made a mockery of an Arab cease-fire plan.

Assad's forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the past year, according to a U.N. estimate. Damascus says rebels have killed more than 2,500 soldiers and security personnel.

The violence has alarmed Syria's neighbours, especially Turkey which already hosts almost 25,000 Syrian refugees. At least five people, including two Turkish citizens, were wounded by cross-border fire into a refugee camp in Turkey on Monday.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Assad of personal responsibility for killing civilians and threatened an unspecified response to the cross-border shooting.

"He is continuing to kill 60, 70, 80, 100 every day," Erdogan said during a visit to Beijing. Assad's troops were "mercilessly" shooting fleeing women and children in the back.

Reuters and msnbc.com's Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report.

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