U.N. Security Council authorizes deployment of unarmed monitors to Syria


The U.N. Security Council on Saturday unanimously authorized the deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers to Syria to monitor the country’s fragile ceasefire.

Russia and China joined the other 13 council members and voted in favor of the Western-Arab draft resolution. Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, made clear that there were limits to the kind of U.N. action Moscow could support.

“Out of respect for the sovereignty of Syria we have cautioned against destructive attempts at external interference or imposing any kind of illusory fixes,” he said.

The resolution passed through after Russia showed its satisfaction with the latest version of the draft.

“Having reported to our capital we are now satisfied we can vote on the resolution,” Churkin told reporters on Saturday.


Russia had strong reservations about the wording of the Western-drafted resolution during two days of intense negotiations on the resolution which will allow an advanced party of up to 30 unarmed monitors to go to Syria this week.

But a new version produced by the United States was sent to the other 14 members of the Council late Friday, which the Russian government approved.

The Security Council condemned “widespread violation of human rights” by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and abuses by “armed groups” in the same time.

The council said that it will consider “further steps” if Syria does not end the violence against protesters and comply with the resolution.

Violence

On Saturday, the Syrian troops shelled two rebel-held neighborhoods in the central city of Homs on Saturday in an apparent violation of an internationally brokered cease-fire, activists said.

The Local Coordination Committees activist group reported that at least 20 people were killed and most of them were in Homs and Aleppo.

The reported bombardment came as the United Nations Security Council was preparing to vote on the resolution.

Since the truce brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan came into effect, far fewer deaths have been reported than from the daily norm of clashes and shelling before the truce.

The regime restricts access of foreign observers, including journalists, making it difficult to verify reports of violence independently.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the shelling on Saturday morning in Homs lasted for about an hour and there were no reports of casualties. It said another wave of mortar rounds hit the neighborhoods later in the day.

Activist Tarek Badrakhan, who is based in the rebel-held Homs neighborhood of Khaldiyeh, and the Observatory said the shelling targeted the neighborhoods of Jouret el-Shayah and Qarabees.

In Homs, which has been one of the hardest hit areas in Syria in the past 13 months and became the symbol of Syria’s uprising, the sporadic shelling started Friday night and continued into Saturday morning, Badrakhan said.

A video posted by activist online said to be taken in Homs showed shells landing in a heavily damaged street.

The Local Coordination Committees said troops fired live bullets and tear gas at a funeral in the northern city of Aleppo. It had no word on casualties. The Observatory said three people were wounded in the shooting at the funeral.

Also, troops were conducting a wave of arrests in the Damascus suburb of Dumair when a car exploded killing one civilian and wounding two others, the Observatory said. It gave no further details.

The Syrian state media reported apparent rebel attacks. State-run news agency SANA said gunmen on Saturday kidnapped army Col. Mohammed Eid in a suburb of the central city of Hama while on his way to work.

It also reported that gunmen stormed the house of local politician Mohammed Ismail al-Ahmad in the northern town of Tin and shot him, then took him to an unknown location, SANA said. The agency said Ahmad had been planning to run for parliament.

Source: Al-Arabiya

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