UN observers arrived in Damascus, update


United Nations advanced monitoring team has just arrived in Damascus. The observers were reportedly on standby awaiting the UN Security Council vote on Saturday to authorise the deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers in the first resolution on Syria since the uprising erupted in March 2011.

The 15-nation council has managed to approve the resolution unanimously

Syrian forces on Sunday shelled the city of Homs for the second consecutive day, the opposition said, hours before the arrival of an advance team of United Nations monitors to supervise a shaky ceasefire, dpa reported.

At least 19 people were killed across Syria, the opposition Local Coordination Committees (LCC) said.

Nine people were killed in shelling attacks on restive districts in the central city of Homs, it said.

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The six-man advance team of UN monitors arrived in Damascus Just before midnight on Sunday to prepare for a full observation mission in Syria as promptly as possible, as part of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan for ending the violence which has ravaged the country for more than a year.

The observers’ aim is to monitor and help maintain the still-shaky cease-fire between the government of President Bashar Al-Assad and armed opposition fighters.

The unarmed military team, headed by an Indian general, is expected to be on the ground in blue helmets as early as tomorrow. They will be augmented by additional personnel on Monday, and 25 to 30 more observers in the coming days, according to U.N. spokesman Khaled Massri.

Assuming the cease-fire holds, the 15-nation council will be asked to approve a full mission of about 250 observers, based on a report by the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon next week.

Syrian officials welcomed the arrival of the “technical” team, and said Damascus was committed to the U.N. plan, which calls for the government to ensure unimpeded freedom of movement for the observers and the ability to interview anyone they want to in private, in addition to unimpeded access for humanitarian workers.

Agencies, CBS