Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

UN observers ready to fly to Syria

Protesters hold Syrian revolutionary flags during a demonstration in Deir el-Zour, Syria (AP)

An advance team of United Nations observers is standing ready to enter Syria, where a tentative ceasefire is "relatively respected" despite government troops and heavy weapons still in population centres, according to a spokesman for international envoy Kofi Annan.

Ahmad Fawzi said: "We have the advanced team standing by to board planes and get themselves on the ground as soon as possible."

Mr Fawzi told reporters in Geneva the team would prepare the way for a full mission of up to 250 observers on the ground if the UN Security Council gives approval as hoped when it meets later on Friday.

He said the full mission would help keep the peace "if the ceasefire holds and it turns into a genuine cessation of hostilities".

Mr Fawzi said Syria's approval for the UN mission is also needed.

Mr Fawzi quoted Mr Annan as telling the 15-nation Security Council that "the continued presence of Syrian armed forces, including armour, in and around population centres must end immediately. Violence in all its forms, including arbitrary arrests, torture and abductions, must stop".

He also quoted Mr Annan as telling the council: "We need eyes on the ground, in light of the fragile calm that appears to be prevailing. We need eyes on the ground quickly to observe and monitor the situation."

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