Syria's Assad says Annan peace plan must not fail

BERLIN Sun Jul 8, 2012 7:53pm BST

BERLIN (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said U.N. envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan to end 16 months of bloodshed was being hindered by countries including Turkey and Saudi Arabia providing support for "terrorists".

"We know that (Annan) is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan," Assad told German television channel Das Erste in an interview.

"The biggest obstacle is that many countries do not even want this plan to succeed so they offer political support and continue to provide the terrorists in Syria with arms and money," Assad said, according to a transcript in German of the interview conducted in English on July 5 and scheduled for broadcast later on Sunday.

Assad accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of providing weapons to the rebels and Turkey of giving logistical help to smuggle in supplies. The United States offered political support, he added.

Annan arrived in Damascus on Sunday for talks with Assad, a day after admitting that his peace plan had so far failed to end 16 months of bloodshed.

Assad said most of victims during the conflict had been his supporters, rather than his opponents on whom he has used shelling and tank fire.

"The majority of them are people who support the government and a big part of the rest are completely innocent people who have been killed by different groups in Syria," he said.

Among those groups were Al Qaeda and other extremist Islamists, Assad said. His forces have captured dozens of al Qaeda fighters, some from Tunisia and Libya, he added.

Al Qaeda leader Adman al-Zawahri has urged Sunni Muslim militants to join the fight against Assad, whose Shi'ite-rooted minority Alawite sect dominates the army and security forces.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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