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14 Apr, 2012 15:26

UN Security Council approves monitors' deployment to Syria

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously agreed to send an initial team of unarmed truce observers to Syria.

The resolution, which authorises the dispatch of an advance team of up to 30 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor compliance with the ceasefire agreement, passed 15-0. The observers will be tasked with establishing and maintaining contact with both sides of the conflict, and reporting on ceasefire compliance until a full mission is deployed in the country."I will make sure that this advance observer mission will be dispatched as soon as possible and try to make concrete proposals by the 18th of April for an official observer mission," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. A spokesman for international envoy Kofi Annan said on Saturday that an advance team of six monitors would arrive in Syria within 24 hours and deploy within 36 hours.It will be followed by a larger contingent of up to 250 once the situation has stabilised.The resolution also calls on both sides to immediately ‘cease all armed violence in all its forms’ and for the Syrian government to implement the demand by Kofi Annan to pull troops and heavy weapons out of cities and towns.It’s the first resolution on Syria the 15-nation Council managed to approve unanimously since the uprising against President Assad erupted in March 2011.Russia, which has previously vetoed 2 resolutions on Syria, showed satisfaction with the latest document, based on the 6-point plan, worked out by UN-Arab League peace envoy Annan. The plan was aimed at stopping the violence in Syria which has taken the lives of 9,000 people, according to the UN.  Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow has always supported Annan's peace plan, and that the unanimous decision made by the UNSC reflects constructive work done by its members. "Under the influence of Russia and a number of other Security Council members, the draft resolution has been significantly changed," Churkin told the UNSC. "It became more balanced and started to represent reality more adequately. It has taken into account the prerogatives of Syria's government, which will be admitting the UN observer mission."A ceasefire was put in place on Thursday as part of the Annan plan. But sporadic violence was reported after truce took effect, with both government forces and activists claiming they were attacked.  On Sunday, just hours after UN vote, the opposition said the army resumed shelling Homs. Clashes were also reported on the Turkey-Syrian border near refugee camps. Damascus insists the Free Syrian Army is using the camps as springboards to launch incursions into Syria.