UN ceasefire monitors to end violence in Syria
For the first time since the Syria conflict sparked in March 2011, the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution authorising the dispatch of military observers to monitor the ceasefire between the regime and rebel forces.
The first batch of 30 unarmed observers will be deployed to Syria, according to the UN Security Council resolution 2042. An initial group of six monitors are to arrive Syria on 15thApril.
Earlier this month, UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan said the Syrian government had agreed to withdraw its military from urban areas, in line with the six-point plan, by 10th April to facilitate the ceasefire.
Despite the regime’s commitment to pull back, a spokesperson for the widely recognised opposition Syrian National Council told AFP that they have concrete proof that heavy weapons are still in population centers.
After the ceasefire agreement, Syrian activist Tarek Badrakhan witnessed shelling in the Homs neighbourhood of Khaldiyeh. “I can see black smoke billowing from a building that was hit in Jouret el-Shayah,” Badrakhan told Associated Press via Skype.
Rami Abdelrahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters that shells were being fired at a rate of one a minute, and of overnight clashes in rural Aleppo on Saturday.
But reports and accounts of violence cannot be independently verified because Syria has repeatedly denied journalists access to the country.
The passed resolution also called for “the urgent, comprehensive, and immediate implementation” of the six-point peace plan drawn up by the Arab League and UN envoy Kofi Annan.
The peace plan aims to end more than a year of bloodshed that has killed over 9,000 people in Syria and to launch inclusive Syrian-led talks on the country’s political future, according to the United Nations.
“The world is watching; however, [this is] with sceptical eyes, since many promises previously made by the government of Syria have not been kept,” he told a news conference in Geneva.
The passed resolution, for the first time, has won the vote from Russia and China who previously vetoed UN resolutions in Syria, blocking attempts at foreign intervention.
But even though the ceasefire took effect on Thursday, scattered violence still continued in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, on Saturday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said concrete proposals for larger UN observer force would be set out by 18th April.