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.
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."
"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."
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)