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
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
VIDEO
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
News
news
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal