Syria: 100 dead during truce but Ban sees "chance to progress"

Published April 19th, 2012 - 01:44 GMT

Over 100 people died during the week following the start of the cease-fire in Syria. But despite this, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon sees "a chance to progress," and recommended sending a larger team of 300 observers in the country.

In parallel, the Syrian government on Thursday signed the preliminary agreement on the protocol governing the work of the UN observers to monitor the fragile cease-fire, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry. The signing reflects "the efforts of Syria to make the Annan plan successful and facilitate the mission of the observers, while respecting the sovereignty of Syria and the international laws governing this type of mission," the statement said.

In Paris, meanwhile, a dozen foreign ministers will meet to try to keep the pressure on Damascus, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who has already threatened Bashar al-Assad with "new measures" if "he missed the last chance," referring to the implementation of Kofi Annan's peace plan.

The Assad regime has repeatedly agreed to implement this plan, but diplomats at the UN decried the lack of cooperation from Damascus who still has yet to develop the protocol organizing the work of the observers, including the freedom of movement by observers. The UN will decide in the upcoming days if conditions will allow their mission to gradually expand, as proposed by Mr. Ban in a letter to the UN Security Council.

Believing that there is "a chance for progress" in Syria, despite the fact that the cessation of hostilities is "clearly incomplete," the UN chief proposed "a mission for an initial period of three months." Mr. Ban recommends that the Council vote to send 300 UN military observers to be deployed "in about ten locations" in Syria, but they will not be involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Diplomats expect a resolution authorizing the deployment of 300 observers could be adopted early next week, while the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing "considers seriously whether or not to send observers in Syria."

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