UN monitor team arrives in Syria as truce teeters | News | DW | 15.04.2012
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UN monitor team arrives in Syria as truce teeters

A team of United Nations monitors has arrived in Damascus. Reports that pro-regime forces were shelling the Syrian city of Homs have left a cease-fire plan for the country looking increasingly precarious.

Der Ausschnitt eines YouTube-Videos vom 15.04.2012 zeigt Rauch und Flammen im Viertel Al-Chalidija im syrischen Homs. Ungeachtet einer offiziellen Waffenruhe haben syrische Regierungstruppen nach Angaben der Opposition die Protesthochburg Homs angegriffen. Auf die Viertel Al-Chalidija und Al-Bajada seien am Sonntag (15.04.2012) Mörsergranaten gefeuert worden, teilte die syrische Beobachtungsstelle für Menschenrechte unter Berufung auf Augenzeugen mit. Foto: homslive (Zu dpa «Syriens Opposition berichtet von Bruch der Waffenruhe» vom 15.04.2012 - ACHTUNG: Bestmögliche Qualität. DPA nutzt das Bild von einer alternativen Quelle und kann keine Gewähr für das im Bildtext angegeben exakte Datum und den genauen Ort geben) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Syrien Bürgerkrieg Waffenruhe Homs

The first international observers called in to monitor the UN-Arab League backed ceasefire arrived in Damascus late on Sunday.

"They've arrived and they will start work tomorrow morning," said UN peacekeeping department spokesman Kieran Dwyer.

News that the observers were on their way was earlier welcomed by Syria, whose state news agency SANA said the country had "nothing to hide." A decision to send the team of monitors was made at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Saturday.

SANA, often viewed as speaking on behalf of the government, expressed "hopes that these observers will convey the real picture of what is happening on the ground."

Watch video 01:38

UN sends observers to Syria

Ahead of the monitors' arrival, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced anxiety at reports of renewed killings in Syria's flashpoints. He urged Damascus to ensure that the fragile truce agreement does not collapse.

"I am very much concerned about what has happened since yesterday and today," he said. "It is important, absolutely important, that the Syrian government should take all the measures to keep this cessation of violence."

'Intensified bombardment'

The arrival of the monitors came amid the reports of renewed violence on the part of the government, including shelling of parts of the central city of Homs, which has long been a flashpoint.

Pro-government forces on Sunday pounded the Khaldiyeh and Bayada neighborhoods of the city in the fiercest bombardment since the cease-fire came into force early on Thursday, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"The bombardment of Khaldiyeh intensified this morning with an average of three shells a minute," head of the observer group, Rami Abdel Rahman, told the AFP news agency.

The group claims that 32 people have been killed since the ceasefire brokered by Annan took effect, with most of them civilians.

rc/mz (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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