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Amid shaky truce, 2 more UN monitors expected in Syria

Syrian Arab Republic,Diplomacy, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

Damascus, April 25 (IANS) As the UN-Arab League envoy voiced concern at the "bleak" situation in Syria, Neeraj Singh, spokesman of the first UN monitoring team in the country, said two more observers are expected to arrive here to lay the groundwork for the deployment of up to 300 monitors sanctioned by the Security Council.

 

Singh, who is here with an advance team of 11 UN observers, said in the last three days he has been here, the monitors are going about their work to assessing the ground realities, indicating there are no restrictions on the movement of the UN team.

 

"The Annan six-point proposal is the best way forward. We are talking and liaising with all political parties and opposition and will report back to the UN on the ground situation in Syria," Singh told IANS at Hotel Sheraton in the Syrian capital.

 

We are expecting two more observers to arrive here today, he said.

 

"We are carrying out patrols in Homs and the team from Damascus also visited Homs," said Singh. He, however, refused to comment on the situation in Homs, the rebel stronghold which has witnessed escalating violence since the protests against the Bashar al-Assad regime.

 

"This is not discussed on a day-to-day basis with the media. We will report back to the UN," he said. "Whatever the military observers observe, they report back through established channels," he added.

 

"We are here for a very important job. Our job is to prepare for the larger UN mission. It's a work in progress," he said.

 

"We are carrying out our tasks on a daily basis. Whatever we are doing, it's very much in the public domain. Wherever we go, there is media around," he told when asked whether he has experienced restriction on movement of the UN monitors.

 

"We don't discuss nationalities of observers. It's going to be a diverse spread of nationalities," he replied when asked that Syria wants "neutral observers" from BRICS countries, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

 

Annan told the UN Security Council Tuesday that the situation in Syria is "bleak" and voiced alarm at reports that government troops are still carrying on with military operations in towns where U.N. observers are not present.

 

Annan stressed that the speedy deployment of the 300-strong UN observer force, cleared by the Security Council on Saturday, is "crucial" to verify what is happening on the ground and potentially "change the political dynamics." The observers would provide the international community with "incontrovertible" information to increase pressure for a cease-fire by the government and opposition, he said.

 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged President Bashar Assad's government to immediately implement his six-point peace-plan, which would culminate with Syrian-led talks between the government and opposition, ending the 13-month protests.

 

A car bomb Tuesday hit a suburb of Damascus injuring three people, putting under stress the 12-day old UN-mandated ceasefire in the Middle East country.

 

(Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in)

 


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