Kofi Annan flew out of Damascus yesterday amid news of a fresh atrocity committed by militias loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and as the Syrian opposition accused Russia of encouraging the regime to commit "savage crimes" against its people after Moscow ruled out supporting any new action at the UN.
Even as evidence emerged of fresh horrors on the ground -- with Mr Annan's observer mission announcing the discovery of the bodies of 13 Syrians who appeared to have been summarily executed -- Russian Deputy Foreign Minster Gennady Gatilov said any new measures at the Security Council would be "premature", diminishing hopes that the shocking massacre at Houla could break the UN deadlock.
The presence of UN monitors has done little to stem the bloodshed, and there have been increasing calls for tougher action, including military intervention, to bring an end to the conflict as hopes for the UN-Arab League backed envoy's six-point peace plan fade.
As the former UN secretary general arrived in Jordan after his two-day visit to Damascus -- where he had met Mr Assad in a last-ditch attempt to save his initiative -- the Syrian National Council (SNC) and two other opposition groups called for international intervention under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which would allow for military force.
"We urge the United Nations Security Council and the international community to intervene immediately to protect the innocent population and end the crimes by the regime, through decisive and unequivocal resolutions," the groups said in a statement.
Haitham al-Maleh, a senior opposition figure, said that Mr Annan's plan had reached a dead end.
"There must be steps at the UN Security Council, and if that can't happen they have to let us have weapons to build our army so we can finish this regime by force," he said. (© Independent News Service)