U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan and the U.N. peacekeeping chief told the Security Council the Syrian army is using fewer heavy arms but remains deployed in towns around the country as fighting and mass arrests continue, diplomats said on Tuesday.
The comments from Annan and U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous added further doubts about Damascus' commitment to ending a 14-month assault on an opposition calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Annan told the 15-nation council via video link from Geneva that his six-point peace plan is not an "open ended commitment (but) a possible last chance to avoid civil war," a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Ladsous told the council that there has been a "noticeable reduction in the use of heavy weapons, a decline in the conduct of large scale military, but now more discreet military operations continue, large scale arrests," another envoy said.
"Syria still resorts to heavy weapons," the second diplomat said, adding that Ladsous said there was still an "intrusive presence of Syrian security" in cities.
Annan told the council that he was especially concerned human rights violations might be intensifying, with more arrests and torture.
"People known for advocating non-violence have been arrested," Annan said, according to a diplomat.
A third diplomat said Annan told the council that "a reduction in (military) operations is not meaningful if replaced by other forms of violence."
A U.N.-backed ceasefire was announced for April 12 as part of Annan's peace plan, along with the deployment of an unarmed U.N. observer force of up to 300 monitors. While there was an initial reduction in violence and U.N. observers have been gradually deploying, a full ceasefire has yet to take hold.