UN acts on Syria as nine die in ceasefire breach

Finally, Russia and China sign up to resolution that will send in 250 international observers

By Edith M Lederer

at the UNITED NATIONS

 

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to dispatch military observers to Syria as at least nine people were killed in scattered violence that threatened the country's fragile ceasefire.

The heaviest fighting was reported in Homs where forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, pictured inset, shelled areas held by rebels, who returned fire with rocket-propelled grenades. In Aleppo, Syria's largest city, government forces were reported to have opened fire on mourners at a funeral. Meanwhile, opposition gunmen ambushed a car carrying soldiers in the southern province of Daraa. The tit-for-tat attacks came as the two sides traded allegations of violations of a UN-brokered truce, which formally took effect on Thursday.

The vote marked the first time since the conflict began more than a year ago that UN diplomats on the council had all agreed on a resolution. It called on both sides to immediately "cease all armed violence in all its forms". It also called on the Syrian government to implement the six-point peace plan drawn up by the international envoy Kofi Annan, including the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from cities and towns.

The resolution authorised the deployment of an advance team of up to 30 unarmed military observers to contact both sides and report on the ceasefire. The council said it immediately intends to establish a larger UN supervision mission after talks between Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Syrian government. Deployment of a larger force will be "subject to a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties".

A spokesman for Mr Annan, Ahmad Fawzi, has said that the envoy envisions a mission with about 250 observers. Russia and China vetoed two previous resolutions that would have condemned President Assad's government for its bloody crackdown on protesters and raised the threat of possible further action. The two countries argued that the resolutions were not balanced and didn't address the attacks by rebel fighters.

In the debate on the resolution adopted yesterday, Russia submitted a rival text to the US and Western-backed draft, and raised questions on Friday evening about the final draft. But Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters before yesterday's vote that Moscow "was satisfied" and would vote yes.

The ceasefire is at the centre of Mr Annan's peace plan, which is aimed at ending more than a year of bloodshed that has killed at least 9,000 people, according to the UN, and to launch inclusive Syrian-led talks on the country's political future. Mr Annan called for the speedy deployment of UN monitors, and his spokesman told a news conference in Geneva on Friday that an advance team of "around 10 or 12" observers, which could quickly be increased to 30, was "standing by to board planes and to get themselves on the ground as soon as possible" once the Security Council approved their deployment.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, welcomed the decision. "This mission is a vital step in supporting the fragile ceasefire in Syria," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Germany is looking into a report that weapons bound for the Syrian regime were loaded on to a German-owned ship. Der Spiegel reported yesterday that the Atlantic Cruiser was halted in the Mediterranean after its owners were warned it was suspected of carrying Iranian military equipment to Tartus in Syria.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture