Annan quits as Syria envoy, White House ups pressure on Assad to go

"Tragically, the spiral of violence in Syria is continuing. The hand extended to turn away from violence in favor of dialogue and diplomacy—as spelled out in the Six-Point Plan—has not been not taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria," Ban said. "Both the Government and the opposition forces continue to demonstrate their determination to rely on ever-increasing violence. In addition, the persistent divisions within the Security Council have themselves become an obstacle to diplomacy, making the work of any mediator vastly more difficult."

Ban said the U.N. still hoped for "a Syrian-led solution that meets the legitimate democratic aspirations of its people."

Annan's six-point plan had called for Assad's forces to pull its forces from civilian population areas and for the opposition to disarm, steps meant to lead to a political transition—widely seen as a path for pushing Assad from power. The Syrian leader agreed to the plan, but never fully implemented it.

In a scathing op-ed on the Financial Times web site, Annan vented his frustration at the "strikingly powerless" international community and bluntly declared "it is clear that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office."

"Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity. But this requires courage and leadership, most of all from the permanent members of the Security Council, including from Presidents Putin and Obama," Annan said.

"Is ours an international community that will act in defense of the most vulnerable of our world, and make the necessary sacrifices to help?" he wrote. "The coming weeks in Syria will tell."

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