Annan says end to Syria violence is top priority

Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan says his top priority as special envoy to Syria is to end the violence, deliver humanitarian relief and finally start a "political process" to resolve the one-year conflict there.

Annan has been appointed joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria. He travels to Damascus on Saturday. He spoke at a news conference after talks on Thursday with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby in Cairo.

Annan says he has the full backing of the international community.

Elaraby said there could not be a repeat in Syria of the "Libyan scenario," alluding to months of NATO airstrikes that helped then-Libyan rebels overthrow the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian chief says she was "struck" by the significant devastation she saw in a shattered district of Syria's central city of Homs.

Valerie Amos told reporters in Damascus on Thursday that the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs is "completely destroyed."

Amos is the first independent outside observer to be allowed in Baba Amr since the military overran the district, wrestling it from rebel control on March 1. She was allowed a brief tour in the ravaged district on Wednesday.

She said she found most residents had fled following the bloody military siege. Amos spoke after a meeting with the Syrian ministers of health and education in Damascus.

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