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14 Jun, 2012 00:43

No-fly zone on the horizon in Syria?

As international pressure against Syrian regime is ratcheting up France has urged to use UN-sanctioned force to implement Kofi Annan peace plan with a no-fly zone being an option.

In his strongest statement on Syria French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius proposed making the six-point peace plan obligatory by invoking the UN’s “Charter 7” provision which allows the Security Council to authorize actions ranging from sanctions to military intervention. "The situation in Syria has taken an even more serious and horrid turn," he said as quoted by Reuters. "We have been informed that children are being used as human shields by the regime, placed in front of tanks, tortured, raped and assassinated.” "To stop this civil war from getting worse, we have to find a way for Assad to leave power and find a way for the opposition to create an alternative transition. But it's clear today … that it is a civil war."The French foreign minister said that a no-fly zone was an option that would be under discussion to stop the "massacres."The Chapter 7 of the UN Charter states that in case the economic measures prove to be inadequate, the Security Council may take actions “necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.”Fabius also said that he wanted EU foreign ministers to adopt tougher sanctions at their next meeting on June 25 not just on Assad, but also military officials who were responsible.The strong words from Paris come after reports that US President Barack Obama has asked the US Navy and Air Force to accelerate plans that would aid in the ousting of Assad. According to Israel’s Debka news agency, President Obama hopes that by initiating a temporary air strike in locales instrumental to the Syrian government, the US may be able to decimate Assad’s control by attacking his regime’s military command centers.Last month US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called for the implementation of a no-fly zone. He said that ousting Assad from control in Syria is much more crucial for America’s interests than the issue of Libya.The situation on the ground in Syria is spiraling out of control with the United Nations peacekeeping chief now describing it as a civil war. The Tuesday comment by the Herve Ladsous, the Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, make the future of the Annan’s peace plan rather uncertain. As the mandate of the UN observer mission to Syria expires next month there are fears that some Security Council members may not be willing to renew this mandate if they feel that the UN observers will be in danger.