Last updated: 5 March, 2012

UN-Arab League envoy Annan to Syria on March 10

Former UN chief Kofi Annan, who has been named special envoy to Syria for the UN and Arab League, will head to Damascus on March 10, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi told reporters on Monday.

Annan will be accompanied by his deputy, former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al-Qudwa, on their first mission to Syria, where a government crackdown on dissent has left thousands dead in a year.

The pair are due in Cairo on Wednesday for talks the following day with Arabi, and will fly to Damascus on Saturday, the Arab League chief said.

Annan was last month chosen as international troubleshooter to try to end the conflict. Qudwa was named as his deputy earlier on Monday.

More than 7,500 people have been killed in an almost year-long crackdown by Syrian forces of protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the United Nations says, and world pressure has been growing for an initiative to end the bloodshed.

Annan and Qudwa are acting under a UN General Assembly mandate as well as Arab League resolutions on the crisis in Syria.

A UN General Assembly resolution passed on February 16 demands that Syria “cease all violence and protect its population,” free everyone detained in connection with the unrest, withdraw troops from urban areas and guarantee freedom of demonstration.

It also insists on “full and unhindered access and movement” for Arab League monitors and international news media “to determine the truth about the situation on the ground.”