Syria refuses to allow monitors from ‘Friends’
Smoke rises from the Al Qusoor district of Homs in this handout picture dated April 14. Syrian activists says troops had bombarded Douma, a Damascus suburb, with mortar shells and machine guns on April 25. Meanwhile, Syria has made clear it will not allow in UN staff from any country in the ‘Friends of the Syrian People’ group. REUTERS photoSyrian troops renewed violence in the cities of Hama and Douma yesterday, just days after United Nations monitors left the areas, opposition activists said, while the Syrian government is refusing to allow monitors from the “Friends of the Syrian People” countries.
Syria has refused at least one U.N. military observer because of his nationality and has made clear it will not allow in U.N. staff from any country in the “Friends of the Syrian People” group, the U.S. envoy to the U.N. said on April 24.
Speaking after U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous briefed the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Ladsous had told the 15-nation panel that Damascus was putting restrictions on the deployment of truce monitors.
“Mr. Ladsous reported that the Syrian government has refused at least one observer based on his nationality, and that Syrian authorities have stated they will not accept United Nations Staff Mutual Insurance Society [UNSMIS] staff members from any nations that are members of the ‘Friends of Democratic Syria,’” Rice told reporters. “He underscored that from the U.N.’s point of view, this is entirely unacceptable,” she added.
Nine killed across Syria
The 14-nation “Friends” group includes the U.S., Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, all of which have said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost his legitimacy.
Syrian activists said troops had bombarded Douma, a Damascus suburb, with mortar shells and machine guns yesterday. At least nine civilians were killed yesterday by government forces in violence across the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Four people were killed on a bus raked with gunfire by security forces at a checkpoint near Khan Sheikhun, a town in the rebel province of Idlib, the observatory said.
Rice also confirmed that Ladsous had told the council it would be another month before 100 of the maximum of 300 unarmed military observers who will comprise the U.N. monitoring mission reach Syria. U.N.-Arab cease-fire broker Kofi Annan told the Security Council on April 24 that the situation in Syria was “bleak” and has called for the rapid deployment of 300 cease-fire monitors in the country.
Syria failed to withdraw weapons from population centers in violation of the terms of the April 12 truce, Ladsous said, also noting reports that security forces were targeting people who had met members of the fledgling U.N. monitoring mission. “If confirmed, this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible,” Annan said.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will debate the recent developments in Syria today.
No weapons found on Syria-bound ship
Meanwhile, W. Bockstiegel Reederei, the German owner of a cargo ship suspected of delivering weapons to Syria said Turkish customs officials found the vessel to have no unlawful cargo aboard.