Syria calm under fragile ceasefire


UN chief Ban Ki-moon and his envoy were encouraged that a ceasefire appears to be holding in Syria, but urged its government to keep its promises and said a single gunshot could derail the fragile peace.

Mr Ban told a news conference in Geneva that it is mainly up to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to keep its promise and hold to a ceasefire. "As of this moment the situation looks calmer. We are following it very closely," Mr Ban said.

"The world is watching, however, with sceptical eyes, since many promises previously made by the government of Syria had not been kept. The onus is on the government of Syria to prove that their words will be matched by their deeds at this time," he said.

His envoy, Kofi Annan, said the UN was asking for a speedy deployment of an observer mission to help keep the cease-fire going.

Shortly after the 6am deadline passed this morning, there was no sign of heavy shelling or rocket attacks in Syria. But a civilian was reported killed and Syria's state-run news agency said "terrorist groups" launched a roadside bomb that killed a soldier.

Mr Ban urged Assad's government to keep its promises since it has previously failed to observe an internationally brokered cease-fire since launching a crackdown on mass protests more than a year ago.

"This ceasefire process is very fragile. It may be broken any time," Mr Ban said. "If and when there is another gunshot, even a small gunshot may give both sides the pretext to engage in another fighting. This is a very worrisome."

Mr Annan, also in Geneva, said in a statement that he also was encouraged that the ceasefire in Syria appears to be holding and urged the government and rebels to fully implement his 6-point peace plan.

Mr Ban called on Assad to hold to the plan and on the opposition "to sustain this cessation of violence in all its forms."

Mr Annan stressed just before his closed-door briefing by videoconference to the UN Security Council that the plan includes military provisions requiring the withdrawal of troops and heavy military equipment from towns and cities and a commitment to move to a political process.

The council was being asked to approve the deployment of a UN observer mission as soon as possible to allow for "a serious political dialogue" to be launched quickly.

"It is difficult to fully assess the situation on the ground, in the absence of UN observers. And therefore we are working with the Security Council to send an observer team as promptly as possible," Mr Ban told reporters.

The council's major powers - the US, China, Russia, Britain and France - all hold veto power on the 15-nation council where Russia has served as Syria's key ally.

"If we are to stop Syria's descent into chaos, the international community must speak and act as one," Mr Ban said.

Mr Annan's spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, has told reporters in Geneva the mission would have about 200 to 250 observers and nations were being asked to contribute soldiers.

Mr Ban said the observer mission could get going almost as soon as it gains authorisation and that he expects Russia to support it, based on talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
United States President Barack Obama, right, uses actor Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele to play the part of 'Luther, President Obama's anger translator'
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions