Members of the first U.N. monitoring team in Syria arrive in Damascus after a visit to Homs city where there were protests against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Reuters)
By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES
International mediator Kofi Annan said on Sunday that the U.N. Security Council’s decision to deploy the further 300 ceasefire monitors in Syria marked a “pivotal moment for the stabilization of the country.”
In a statement issued in Geneva, he called on both Syrian government forces and opposition fighters to put down their weapons and work with the unarmed observers to consolidate the fragile ceasefire that took effect 10 days ago.
“The government in particular must desist from the use of heavy weapons and, as it has committed, withdraw such weapons and armed units from population centers and implement fully its commitments under the six-point plan,” Annan said, referring to his plan accepted by both sides to end 13 months of violence.
But Syrian troops shelled districts in a suburb of the capital Damascus, activists said early Sunday, as an advance team of United Nations observers began touring Syrian hot spots.
The Local Coordination Committees activist network says explosions in Douma, 10 kilometers northwest of Damascus, were reported early Sunday as troops stormed neighborhoods in the sprawling suburb.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two people were killed in the town of Douma and one in the village of Htaita.
Local activist Omar Hamza put the toll at four, saying two people were killed when the army shelled buildings in Douma, scene of recent protests against President Bashar al-Assad, and two were killed elsewhere in Damascus province.
Douma-based activist Mohammed Saeed said tanks were shelling parts of the suburb, the scene of clashes between rebels and security forces before a cease-fire went into effect a week ago.
Saeed said two people were killed, but that could not be immediately confirmed with other activist groups.