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Violence In Syria Reportedly Continues; Annan Seeks Help From Iran

As al-Jazeera and other news outlets report being told by activists that Syrian government forces are shelling the city of Homs and attacking and arresting opponents of President Bashar Assad in other places, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan continues to press for a true ceasefire to take effect on Thursday.

In Tehran today, Bloomberg News reports, Annan told reporters that failing to stop the violence could have "unimaginable consequences." And Annan said that Iran, one of Assad's supporters in the region, favors his six-point plan for ending the bloodshed.

"Iran, given its special relations with Syria, can be part of the solution" if it helps convince the Assad regime to stand down, Annan added.

The U.N. estimates that more than 9,000 people have died in Syria, most at the hands of government forces, since anti-regime protests began a little more than a year ago.

Update at 11:10 a.m. ET. Regime Tells Annan It Will Cease Military Action But Reserves Right To "Respond Proportionately To Any Attacks."

Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for Annan, has emailed this statement to reporters:

"The Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan has today received a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic informing him of the decision of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic 'to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6 a.m. (Damascus time) tomorrow, Thursday, 12 April 2012, while reserving the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, Government forces or public and private property.'

"The Joint Special Envoy will continue to work with the Syrian Government and the opposition to ensure the comprehensive implementation of the six-point plan, including full compliance with Item 2 of the plan.

"The Joint Special Envoy looks forward to the continued support of relevant countries in this regard."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.