UN observers see difficult Syria job

UN observers see difficult Syria job

DAMASCUS
UN observers see difficult Syria job

Syrians walk between destroyed buildings in the Inshaat neighborhood of Homs on April 15. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the US was discussing with other powers what to do in the event the peace plan collapses. AP Photo

UN military observers acknowledged that they face a “difficult” job firming up a shaky ceasefire in Syria yesterday, as five civilians were killed in fresh violence as the ceasefire entered its sixth day.

Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, a Moroccan officer who heads a six-strong advance team preparing for the deployment of a 30-strong mission, said the observers would move forward one step at a time, Agence France-Presse reported. “It’s a difficult mission that needs coordination and planning. No ceasefire, not even the beginnings of a political process -- this mission will be one of the toughest ever undertaken by the United Nations,” Himmiche said.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he is asking the EU to provide helicopters and planes for the observers due to the ongoing violence and the long distances monitors would have to travel. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. was still “hoping for the best,” but was discussing with other powers what to do in the event the peace plan collapses. Her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov pointed the finger at the opposition and called on its foreign supporters to put pressure on the rebels to honor the “fragile” truce. Mortar shells struck the central city of Homs at a pace of one a minute yesterday morning, activists said. Three of the five dead yesterday were killed in regime shelling of Idlib, a northwestern province close to the border with Turkey, activists said. Two more were killed and dozens wounded in a bombardment of the Basr al-Harir district of Daraa province, south of Damascus. Meanwhile, the main opposition group Syrian National Council is making preparations to open a representation in Libyan capital of Tripoli in several weeks, Anatolia news agency reported. International envy to Syria Kofi Annan, joint emissary for the U.N. and the Arab League was in Qatar briefing the Arab League on Syria. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said international sanctions are starting to work and have wiped out half of Syria’s foreign currency reserves.

Syria, Assad, Annan