UN cease-fire monitors get down to work in Syria | News | DW | 16.04.2012
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UN cease-fire monitors get down to work in Syria

UN cease-fire observers are set to begin a mission to monitor a fragile cease-fire between government and rebel forces in Syria. The advance team arrived in Damascus late on Sunday.

An advance team of United Nations observers were to start to lay the groundwork on Monday for a mission that is meant to monitor a fragile truce between the Syrian army and rebel forces.

"The mission will start with setting up operating headquarters this morning, and reaching out to the Syrian government and the opposition forces so that both sides fully understand the role of the UN observers," spokesman Fawzi Ahmad said in a statement quoted by the Reuters news agency.

"The remaining 25 are expected to arrive in the next few days," he added.

The advance team of six observers had arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, late on Sunday.

'Fragile truce'

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stressed the need for both sides to respect the truce so that among other things, humanitarian aid could be delivered to those in need.

"All sides are responsible for making a cease-fire and also a political solution possible," Westerwelle said. "But there is no denying that the situation is extremely fragile."

Even as the monitors arrived in the country, there were reports of serious violations of the cease-fire. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that shelling had resumed in the central city of Homs on Monday. It said government forces were targeting parts of the city still held by the rebels.

In this image made from amateur video released by the Shaam News Network and accessed Sunday, April 15, 2012, a building is on fire following purported shelling in Homs, Syria.

More shelling was reported in Homs

According to opposition activists, 41 people have been killed since the cease-fire, which was brokered by UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan and came into effect last Thursday. Such figures are virtually impossible to independently confirm due to a government ban on most foreign journalists from reporting from the country.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Sunday to send 30 observers to monitor the cease-fire in Syria. The rest of the advance team was expected to arrive in the country in the next few days.

The UN estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed since the uprising began with protests against the regime of Syrian Presisdent Bashar al-Assad 13 months ago.

pfd/sej (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)