“It has been emphasized that the bloodshed in Syria must be ended and a democratic transition process should start immediately,” a statement released after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting of the National Security Council (MGK), which brought together top political leaders including the president and the prime minister and military commanders. The UN plan, drafted by UN-Arab League joint envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, seeks talks between President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition forces that are trying to topple him. Turkey, a fierce critic of Assad, suspects the Syrian regime of using the plan to gain more time. A cease-fire that went into effect on April 12 as part of the plan has helped reduce violence, but fighting persists and UN officials have singled out the Syrian regime as the main aggressor. Damascus, on the other hand, says 2,600 of its personnel have died at the hands of anti-Assad forces, and has accused the United Nations of turning a blind eye to “terrorist acts” against security forces. The MGK also discussed tension between Iraq’s Shiite-led government and other groups, including the Sunnis and Kurds.