White House: Syria has ‘fallen short’ of peace plan despite cease-fire

The White House says a cease-fire that began Thursday in Syria is not sufficient for the country to meet the terms of a peace plan.

There were reports of calm in Syria just hours after a cease-fire began, but White House press secretary Jay Carney said Syria had “clearly fallen short” of abiding by the six-point peace plan laid out by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

While Syria appeared to be abiding by the cease-fire that began Thursday, according to reports, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces had not left populated areas, which they were supposed to do on Tuesday.

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“While it is certainly better if there is a gun to someone's head that the trigger is not being pulled, the gun is still at that person's head, and that's the situation when there is not a withdrawal but forces are in position to begin their assault again,” Carney said at Thursday’s press briefing. “That is a long way from fulfillment of the obligations that the Assad regime committed itself to.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the pause in fighting was only a first step and Syria can’t “pick and choose” which parts of the agreement to accept.

"If it holds, a cease-fire is an important step, but it represents just one element of the special envoy’s plan," Clinton said Thursday. "The Annan plan is not a menu of options. It is a set of obligations. The burden of fully and visibly meeting all of these obligations continues to rest with the regime."

She said that the Obama administration supported an advance group ahead of a United Nations monitoring mission.

Annan said in a statement he was encouraged that the cease-fire was being initially followed.

Carney said that the Obama administration is still evaluating its next steps in Syria, and plans to work with its allies to decide the best route forward.