UN Approves 300 Syria Observers (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gabe Kahn 04/21/12)
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The United Nations Security Council on Saturday approved the
expansion of the UN ceasefire observer force in Syria from 30 to 300.
The council also demanded an "immediate halt to the violence," which
has escalated rather than abated since Syria´s government and
opposition agreed to halt hostilities more than a week ago.
The resolution is the first authorizing unarmed UN military observers
to go into a conflict area, giving Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
authority to decide when to deploy the additional monitors.
Ban´s approval is expected to be based on "developments on the
ground" including "the consolidation of the cease-fire."
The resolution came after the UN leader on Thursday pressed the
Security Council to to take "early action" to send 300 unarmed
observers to Syria to monitor a shaky cessation of hostilities that
commenced on April 12.
"This is not a decision without risk," he acknowledged. "But I
believe it can contribute to achieving a just peace and political
settlement, reflecting the people´s will in Syria."
Ban told reporters there was "deeply troubling evidence" that the
government was pursuing its deadly crackdown despite agreeing to halt
"The past few days, in particular, have brought reports of renewed
and escalating violence, including the shelling of civilian areas,
grave abuses by government forces and attacks by armed groups," he
In a statement released ahead of the Security Council meeting on
Saturday, Ban again demanded that Syria end all violence and "the
gross violations of the fundamental rights of the Syrian people."
He also demanded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "send its troops
and heavy weapons back to their barracks" in accordance with a UN-
backed peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan.
Saturday´s resolution merged rival Russian and European texts and
dropped a European threat of non-military sanctions against Syria.
Instead it expresses the council´s intention to “consider further
However, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice warned that
if Syria doesn´t implement all its commitments or obstructs the work
of the monitors that Washington would "pursue other measures."
Analysts say "other measures" in diplomatic language is generally a
reference to sanctions.
"Let there be no doubt, we, our allies and others in this body are
planning and preparing for those actions that will be required of all
of us if the Assad regime persists in the slaughter of the Syrian
people," she said.
She added the US would not wait 90 days to pursue such measures
should the Assad regime continue the brutal 13-month crackdown in
Syria that has claimed at least 9,100 civilian lives.
Syrian UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari claimed on Saturday that his
government had informed Annan it has "withdrawn troops and heavy
weapons from urban centers."
He did not, however, specify when or where the purported pullback
took place. He said "police and other security forces will maintain
law and order" and "exercise the utmost degree of restraint."
Jaafari – who insisted the Assad regime would continue to strike
at "foreign terrorists," which has been regime code for domestic
dissidents and rebels – said Syria has "demonstrated considerable
cooperation" with Annan and his plan.
Rice responded that the United States is "sober about the risks, all
the more so given the Assad regime´s long record of broken promises,
deceit and disregard for the most basic standards of humanity."
"The Syrian people, like us, know that the deployment of 300, or even
3,000 unarmed observers cannot on its own stop the Assad regime from
waging its barbaric campaign of violence against the Syrian people,"
"What can bring a halt to this murderous rampage is continued and
intensified external pressure on the Assad regime," she added.
Despite repeated US demands that Syrian President Bashar Assad step
down, the Obama administration maintains Assad has a firm hold on
power and that military force would be required to oust him.
Nonetheless, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has ruled out
providing military aid to the rebel Free Syrian Army or direct
military intervention. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012 04/21/12)
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