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.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week