UN mission chief expects 100 more observers in Syria soon

UN mission chief expects 100 more observers in Syria soon

Head of the UN observer mission in Syria said Wednesday he is expecting more than 100 international observers to arrive in Syria in the next days to monitor the crumbling ceasefire, Xinhua reported.

Major General Robert Mood said that currently there are 52 members in his team, adding that the number will mount to 59 by the end of the day, according to the Sky News TV.

The Norwegian leader said the number will double within the next few days.

He charged that there are violations of the UN-backed ceasefire by the government and the opposition alike, but added that the observers have a "calming effect" in the areas they have been dispatched to.

Meanwhile, UN observer team's spokesperson, Niraj Singh, told Xinhua late Wednesday that the number of unarmed military observers in Syria reached 31. He noted the number of the entire team, including military and non-military personnel, is 52.

The observers have been dispatched to the hotspots across Syria in central Hama, Homs, northern Idlib, and southern Daraa provinces.

They arrived two weeks ago to monitor the UN-backed ceasefire that went into effect on April 12. However, despite their presence, the violence has not abated effectively with daily reports of killings, kidnappings and bombings.

On Wednesday, activists said that Syrian troops clashed with armed rebels in the northern region near the Turkish border and that 15 agents of the Syrian security forces, including two officers, were killed.

Meanwhile, the official SANA news agency said that three army personnel were killed in separate clashes in eastern Deir al-Zour, and southern Daraa province. The agency also reported the assassination of an opposition leader's son by gunmen late on Wednesday.

The ceasefire is part of the six-point plan put forward by UN- Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan, which calls mainly for halting violence from all sides to pave the way for political settlement to the 13-month-old unrest in Syria.

Meanwhile, Minister of Information Adnan Mahmoud said Wednesday that the Syrian government has been committed to Annan's plan in order to make the monitors' mission a success, according to SANA.

"At the same time, we are waiting for Mr. Annan to take tangible steps towards the armed terrorist groups and take commitments from the states which support and sponsor them to halt violence in Syria," Mahmoud said.

He underlined the need for the UN monitors to work in a neutral and just way, saying that the escalation of terrorist acts in Syria requires the international community to help combat terrorism instead of backing it.

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