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UNSMIS (Reuters)
UNSMIS (Reuters)

Syria Violence goes on & U.N. criticizes both sides

(DP-News - agencies)

SYRIA- An advance team of UN observers is on the ground, in hopes of calming the situation. But while the level of violence has decreased since the April 12 cease-fire, Syrian forces continue attacking rebellious areas instead of withdrawing to their barracks, as required under the deal, as international press reports indicated on Wednesday.

Press reports said that Syrian rebel fighters also kept up shooting attacks and roadside ambushes targeting troops. Aviolence hit two Syrian provinces, with a rights group reporting 10 civilians dead in an army mortar attack and 12 soldiers killed in a firefight with rebel gunmen, as U.N. monitors sought to shore up a flimsy ceasefire.


The United Nations has also accused both sides of breaching the truce.

The United Nations now has 30 truce monitors in Syria, a sprawling nation of 23 million people.

The UN observer team's spokesperson, Niraj Singh, said on Wednesday that the number of the UN observers advance team has been completed after the last patch of observers arrived in Syria coming from the participating countries.

UPI news agency reported Singh as saying that the number of observers who arrived in Syria reached 31, adding that they are working in Homs, Hama, Daraa and in areas close to the city of Damascus.



Their commander, Norwegian Major General Robert Mood, has acknowledged his mission cannot solve Syria's fundamental problems but said the security situation was not impossible.
"We have seen this in many crises before that if you simply keep adding to the violence with more bombs and weapons and more violence, it becomes a circle that is almost impossible to break," he told BBC radio. "We are not in that situation."



Speaking in Damascus to Britain's Sky News on Wednesday, in his first television interview in the role, Major General Robert Mood brushed off criticism that the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) had been too slow to get going.



The Norwegian said their numbers of boots on the ground would double in the coming days.

"This is not easy and we are seeing—by the action, by explosions, by firing—that the ceasefire is really a shaky one. It's not holding," the 53-year-old said.

"But what we are also seeing on the ground is that where we have observers present, they have a calming effect and we're also seeing that those operating on the ground, they take advice from our observers."



Mood said he would have 59 people in place in Damascus by the end of Wednesday and aimed to double the figure in the coming days as more flights come in carrying troops, vehicles and equipment.

"The people and equipment now on the ground is actually exactly how we want to see it, so the next couple of days—picking up the pace, doubling and spreading out—is exactly what suits us very well," he said.



UN officials in New York said they expected all members of the planned 300-member mission to be on the ground by the end of the month.



The United Nations says Syrian regime forces have killed more than 9,000 people since the uprising began in March 2011.
Like other Arab revolts against autocratic rulers, Syria's revolt began with peaceful protests but a violent government response has spawned an increasingly bloody insurgency.

The government says rebels have killed more than 2,600 soldiers and police, and the speaker of Syria's parliament, Mahmoud al-Abrach, said that outside states backing the insurgency bore responsibility for the bloodshed.
"The escalation is continuing and it must be stopped from the outside - I mean those who are providing those groups with weapons and money," he told Reuters Television in Damascus. "They need to stop this."

The ceasefire brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan briefly calmed but failed to halt the conflict. Rebels, although low on funds and ammunition, seem to be stepping up a bombing campaign.



In turn, Western governments have lost patience with President Bashar al-Assad, accusing him of breaking promises made to Annan that he would order troops and tanks back to their barracks.

Paris has called for U.N. sanctions against Damascus, but the West can do little given the diplomatic cover Syria enjoys at the Security Council from China and Russia. Moscow says the rebels are mainly to blame for the continued violence.

Western states are wary of military intervention along the lines of last year's air campaign that helped topple Libya's Muammar Gaddafi because of the greater diplomatic and military complexities of tackling Syria, as well as the potential spillover effects on a volatile Middle Eastern neighborhood.

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