Syria's Assad Rebuffs Peace Effort by Annan Meanwhile, the army lays siege to city of Idlib By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Mar 10, 2012 8:41 AM CST 0 comments Comments In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, UN envoy Kofi Annan, left, meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. (AP Photo/SANA) (Newser) – Hoping that Kofi Annan's meeting with Bashar al-Assad today might yield a diplomatic miracle and an end to violence in Syria? Not so much. Assad's regime released this statement afterward: "No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability." More telling: Syrian troops opened an assault on the city of Idlib as the two were meeting, notes Reuters. Families were fleeing the city as troops encircled it, reports AP, raising fears it will suffer the same fate as the Baba Amr region of Homs. Against this backdrop, the foreign minister of Russia met with Arab League officials in Cairo to make the case that his nation is trying to protect "international law," not Assad in particular, reports al-Jazeera. It didn't go over well. "There is systematic genocide by the Syrian government," said Qatar's prime minister, who spoke immediately afterward. He criticized Russia and China and said "patience has run out."