Annan To Brief UN Security Council On Syria Peace Plan

Violence is continuing in Syria as the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, prepares to brief the Security Council on the progress of his peace plan.

The UN says at least 9,000 people have been killed since last March

Violence is continuing in Syria as the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, prepares to brief the Security Council on the progress of his peace plan.

Activists say at least three people have been killed in an army offensive in Idlib province, and there has been fresh fighting in the city of Homs.

There has also been an explosion in central Damascus, state media report.

On Sunday, Gulf Arab states agreed to pay the salaries and other costs of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The money, which will be distributed through the opposition Syrian National Council, is the first formal international support for the FSA.

The decision was announced at a meeting in Istanbul of the "Friends of Syria" - a group of 83 countries backing political change.

'Timeline'

The conference also warned President Bashar al-Assad that he had little time to comply with Mr Annan's peace plan, which he accepted last week.

"The window of opportunity for the regime to implement its commitments to Joint Special Envoy Annan is not open-ended," a statement said.

"The Friends' Group called upon the Joint Special Envoy to determine a timeline for next steps, including a return to the UN Security Council, if the killing continues," it added.

Mr Annan wants a UN-supervised ceasefire by all parties, the withdrawal of soldiers and heavy weapons from cities, the release of prisoners, delivery of humanitarian aid, and free movement for journalists.

On Monday morning, activists said government forces were continuing their offensive on opposition strongholds in Idlib, in Syria's north.

At least one person was killed by gun and shellfire in the village of Hass, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The homes of people who had fled were also set on fire and others were arrested.

The Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC) put the death toll at six.

The groups also said two other villages in the nearby Jabal al-Zawiya area - Deir Sunbol and Farkiya - had also been targeted by troops and that at least one person had been killed. The LCC said a child and a youth had died.

There were also reports of heavy shelling in the central city of Homs.

The LCC said a young man was killed by a shell explosion in the Deir Baalba district, and that four members of the Free Syrian Army had died in violent clashes with security forces in several parts of the city.

A bomb also exploded near a police station and hotel in the central Marja district of Damascus, injuring at least four people, state television said. The site was quickly cordoned off by security forces, witnesses said.

The UN says at least 9,000 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests erupted last March. The government says about 3,000 members of the security forces have died combating "armed terrorist gangs".