Fighting Reported In Syria Before Assad’s Expected Speech

Syrian state media say President Bashar Assad will outline a peace plan Sunday, NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports. Sunday morning, activists reported “heavy clashes between rebels and government forces around the country,” according to The Associated Press.

Kenyon says there’s no suggestion Assad’s resignation will be part of his announcement.

He tells our Newscast Desk that, according to state media’s official sources, the plan includes: a ceasefire overseen by international observers, changes to the constitution, a national unity government and free elections.

As the BBC reports, diplomatic efforts have so far failed to end the violence:

“UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been pushing a plan approved at an international conference in June that would create a transitional government.

“But the plan leaves President Assad’s role unclear. The Syrian opposition has insisted that Mr. Assad must step down for the conflict to end.”

More than 60,000 people have been killed since March 2011, the U.N. Human Rights Office estimates, a number it called “truly shocking.”

NPR’s Deborah Amos shared her experiences reporting in and around the country on Friday. She told NPR’s Steve Inskeep:

“One teacher told me that the kids only paint in red. And it’s almost impossible for them to draw human beings without blood coming out of them.”

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