Fighting resumes outside Damascus after UN vote | News | DW | 22.04.2012
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Fighting resumes outside Damascus after UN vote

Government troops have reportedly shelled suburbs of Damascus. The assaults came hours after the UN Security Council voted to send 300 monitors in a bid to salvage a plan to stop 13 months of violence in Syria.

Anti-government activists said government troops backed by tanks assaulted towns on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday, killing three people. Two of the victims were reported to have been killed in the town of Douma. Another person was killed in the village of Hteita, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group based in Britain, said.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan demanded the regime of President Bashar al-Assad stop using "heavy weapons" in a statement on Sunday.

Watch video 01:01

Violence Continues in Syria Despite Monitors' Presence

"The government in particular must desist from the use of heavy weapons and, as it has committed, withdraw such weapons and armed units from population centers and implement fully its commitments under the six-point plan," Annan said, referring to his peace plan, which both Assad and anti-government activists agreed to.

The UN Security Council had voted unanimously on Saturday to increase the size of its monitoring mission from 30 to 300. The observers are meant to ensure the conditions of a cease-fire are being upheld.

Fighting stops for monitors

An advance team of eight monitors has been travelling around Syria since Thursday. So far, the violence tends to taper off before they visit a location.

A handout photo made available by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows a group of UN observers in Damascus' suburbs

The monitors are travelling to hotspots in the country

"This UN observers thing is a big joke," Mohammed Saeed, an activist in Douma told the Associated Press. "Shelling stops and tanks are hidden when they visit somewhere, and when they leave, shelling resumes."

Two of the monitors had decided to remain in the dissident city of Homs after residents asked them to stay, one of the group said on Sunday. Activists had said that Saturday, the day the observers arrived, was the first day since February 5 that government troops had not fired on the city.

The other six observers were continuing their work in other parts of the country.

The cease-fire began on April 12. Though it has curbed the violence, it has not put an end to the bloodshed.

ncy/tj (AP, Reuters, AFP, dapd)

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