France threatened last night to demand international intervention against President Bashar al-Assad if a peace plan failed to stop the violence in Syria.
Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said he was giving the peace plan put forward by Kofi Annan, the United Nations envoy -- which includes sending hundreds of monitors to Syria -- until May 5 to show it was working.
That is the day Mr Annan is due to make his next report on the mission to the UN Security Council. Mr Juppe said it was the "moment of truth" and if the Syrian regime were not complying, France would seek a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which permits the use of force.
"This cannot continue indefinitely. We want to see observers in sufficient numbers, at least 300, deployed as quickly as possible," he said.
Mr Annan has already reported to the council that Syria had failed to withdraw weapons from population centres in violation of the terms of the April 12 ceasefire.
Activists have accused the Syrian government of using visits by the handful of monitors in the country to target opposition figures. Others claimed that 11 activists in Hama were captured and executed the day after they spoke to UN observers visiting the city.
"Syrian intelligence came back to Arbaeen district after the observers left," said Mousab Alhamadee. "They arrested the activists from their hideout, took them to the High School of Industry and shot them.
"The regime has decided to punish people who talked to monitors. Residents are fleeing areas that the monitors visit."
The full deployment of the 300 UN observers has been delayed since the plan was agreed, with only 15 monitors currently inside Syria. (© Daily Telegraph, London)