The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday to send observers to monitor the truce in Syria. Russia and China which earlier twice stopped resolutions about Syria with a veto, this time backed the vote, ensuring the first Security Council resolution on Syria since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out 13 months ago.
UN Resolution 2042 approved sending the first 30 unarmed military monitors to the conflict-wracked state as soon as possible. The first five or six of them are expected to arrive on Sunday, officials said.
The resolution called for both the Syrian government and opposition forces to bring a halt to "armed violence in all its forms." It also urged the government to "implement visibly" all commitments under UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, including the withdrawal of all troops and heavy guns from Syrian cities. Assad and the opposition must also "guarantee the safety of the advance team without prejudice to its freedom of movement and access," and the "primary responsibility" for observers' safety will rest with the Syrian government.
A new resolution with a full mandate will be required to ensure a full monitoring mission of more than 200 observers.
Meanwhile the violence did not yet stop. Even as Saturday's vote took place, forces loyal to Assad killed four civilians when they opened fire on a funeral procession for a demonstrator in Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Five more civilians, two soldiers and a policeman who had deserted were killed elsewhere in the country. State television aired footage of youths burning tyres and hurling stones in the Aleppo district of Izaa, and accused gunmen of fanning out in the area and opening fire at random. The death toll, however, was far lower than the dozens of people killed on a daily basis before the ceasefire entered into force at dawn on Thursday.The latest deaths came after six civilians were killed on Friday as tens of thousands of people protested across Syria, heeding calls by the opposition to test the UN-backed truce. The Local Coordination Committees activist group said there were 771 demonstrations throughout Syria on Friday, a number that is larger than the protests of the weeks before.The rallies, described as some of the largest in months, stretched from the suburbs of Damascus to the central province of Hama, Idlib in the north and the southern province of Dera'a, where the uprising began in March 2011.