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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen