Sunday, April 22, 2012

UN Security Council agrees to increase number of monitors in Syria

The Syrian press agency Sana published this photo of  the UN observers visiting Homs on Saturday. 

The UN Security Council has voted to increase the number of observers in Syria to 300 for three months. A small UN team is already in Syria to monitor the present ceasefire between government and rebel forces.
The UN resolution was unanimously approved by the 15-member council, as the monitors were allowed to visit the city of Homs, an opposition stronghold where bombardment by the army are said to be still going on. .
 The resolution was adopted following a debate about the conditions for deployment. European states had said the unarmed observers should be sent only when Syria implemented its pledge to send troops and tanks back to barracks. Russia, which is more friendly towards the regime in Damascus,  simply emphasised the need to send more monitors quickly. In the end, the resolution leaves it to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to decide how and when the monitors will be deployed.
Although overall violence has fallen since the truce was agreed by the UN and Syria more than a week ago, violations are still being reported. According to Reuters news agency, at least 23 people were killed on Friday, 10 of them in a roadside bomb targeting security forces. Most of the others fell in army shelling on the city of Homs
The resolution about an expansion of the monitoring team follows after Syria and the United Nations signed an agreement on Thursday on the terms the observers to monitor a ceasefire. The Syrian press Agency Sana quoted Ahmad Fawzi, Spokesman for the UN Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, who said that the agreement defines the observers' missions and the responsibilities of the Syrian government.
The signing of the agreement with Syria coincided with a meeting of the 'Friends of Syria'' group in Paris on Thursday. Participating were senior officials from France,the United States, Britain and other Western states, as well as Middle East countries like Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They agreed the Annan mission and the truce were the "last hope" of avoiding an all-out civil war. Russia snubbed an invitation.

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