This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
The popular revolt in Syria against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been grinding on for over a year now. The United Nations says Assad's forces have killed more than 9,000 people during that time. The Syrian government in turn blames what it calls foreign-backed terrorists for the deaths of 3,000 soldiers and police. Now, the plight of Syria's children has captured attention.
U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan says the Syrian government should be the first to enact a cease-fire, but there was no sign of that on Friday. More violence erupted in several Syrian cities as diplomats prepared for Sunday's meeting of the "Friends of Syria" in Istanbul, Turkey.
The gathering comes at a time of growing disaffection with diplomatic efforts and an increase in attacks by Syrian opposition fighters.
Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 11:37 am
The peace plan backed by the United Nations got the support of Arab foreign ministers today.
The leaders, who were in Baghdad for an Arab League summit, endorsed the plan which calls for a cease fire, the release of political prisoners and dialogue with the opposition. The ministers said Syria should enact the plan.
Ahmad Fawzi said the news came in a letter from President Bashar Assad's government to Annan, the former U.N. secretary general who has been trying to broker an end to the Assad regime's crackdown on dissent — which the U.N. estimates has led to the deaths of more than 8,000 people in the past year.
The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has reached the conclusion that the United States violated some of the rights of the Army private accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.
Pfc. Bradley Manning has been in U.S. custody since May 2010 and as we've reported, Juan Méndez, the U.N.'s top torture official, has already had some tough words for the U.S. leading up to this report.