The UN and Arab League’s special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, is meeting President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday to press for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict.
The talks in Damascus come a day after government forces are said to have killed more than 70 people across Syria, mainly in Homs and the northern province of Idlib.
Annan told a news conference in Cairo on Thursday:
“The Syrian people need help, they are in a desperate situation and we should press hard and continue the diplomatic efforts, working collectively to stop this killing. And we also have to be coldly realistic when we put proposals on the table to understand that it can be carried through and it will yield the right results. Otherwise we raise false hopes and create even more problems.”
Last week the UN’s refugee agency said neighbouring Lebanon had received more than 1,500 people, mostly women and children, who had crossed the border from Syria fleeing the violence.
One hospital in northern Lebanon has witnessed a steady flow of wounded arriving from Syria:
180 in February, almost another 40 this month.
Some say they dare not seek treatment in Syrian hospitals because they claim security forces seek out opponents of the regime among the injured and kill them.
Kofi Annan is due to demand access for humanitarian aid when he meets President Assad.