Picture taken in Homs after shelling by government forces. (AP)
International peace envoy Kofi Annan has called for the rapid deployment of 300 ceasefire monitors in Syria, branding violence levels "unacceptable" 12 days into a promised truce, but a top UN official said it will take at least one month to get the first 100 in place. The council was told there are now 11 UN observers in place and the 30-strong advance party of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) is expected to be on the ground by the end of the week. But UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said it would take a month to get the first 100 of the 300-member full force into Syria.
Ban's comments came a day after nearly 60 people were killed across the country in violence that continued Tuesday with a car bomb in the Marjeh district of Damascus that injured three.
Syrian state television blamed "terrorists", the government term for rebels, for the blast. It came as Un observers returned to the city of Hama's Arbaeen neighbourhood, which activists said suffered a "massacre" on Monday at the hands of regime troops. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 31 civilians were killed in this city, out of a total of 59 people including five soldiers killed in violence nationwide. Kofi Annan said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has still not fulfilled a promise to end violence and that the situation was "bleak" and "unacceptable". He said he was "particularly alarmed" at reports that government forces had entered Hama after a visit by UN monitors and killed "a significant" number of people.
"If confirmed this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible," he told the Security Council.
The Syrian League for Human Rights said that among those killed in Hama on Monday were nine activists who were "summarily executed" by government forces a day after they met UN observers in the city.AP reports that the killing of Syrian high military at the hands of rebels continue. At least 10 senior officers, including several generals, have been gunned down in the past three months, many of them as they left their homes in the morning to head to their posts, according to AP.
The latest occurred Tuesday, when attackers shot and killed a retired lieutenant colonel and his brother, a chief warrant officer, at a home supplies store in another suburb of the capital, according to the state news agency. Elsewhere in Damascus, an intelligence officer was killed, opposition activists said.