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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

First UN Monitors Arrive in Syria

RIA Novosti

07:22 16/04/2012 MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - The first six United Nations monitors have arrived in Damascus as part of a peace plan designed to end 13 months of bloodshed in Syria, international media reported.

The six observers would begin their fieldwork later on Monday, Kieran Dwyer, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping department, was quoted in media reports as saying.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to send a group of 30 observers to Syria to monitor a fragile ceasefire between government and opposition forces which came into effect on Thursday. The ceasefire is part of a peace plan for Syria proposed by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

In line with a UN resolution, the initial group of 30 monitors may be expanded to include some 250 observers.

Syria's official Sana news agency said the country "welcomes" the monitors, and hopes that the team will bear witness to the "crimes" being carried out by "armed terrorist groups,” the BBC reported.

Both the Syrian government and opposition forces have accused each other of violating the ceasefire. Opposition activists said at least three people had been killed as government forces fiercely shelled the battered western city of Homs on Saturday. Meanwhile, Sana quoted an indentified military source as saying that “armed terrorist groups have hysterically escalated their aggressions on the army, the law enforcement forces and the civilians” since the truce came into effect on Thursday.

The Syrian authorities “will prevent… criminal aggressions and acts of killings and sabotage against the citizens and their properties,” the report said.

According to the United Nations, more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of popular protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian rule in February 2011.

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