UN Advance Team Due in Syria in 48 Hours

Posted April 3rd, 2012 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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An advance U.N. team is due to arrive in Syria within 48 hours to discuss the deployment of peacekeepers in a bid to halt violence from the government's year-long crackdown on dissent.

A spokesman for U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan made the announcement Tuesday, saying the group would work out the details of deploying international monitors to Damascus.

The announcement comes a day after Mr. Annan said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to begin pulling out his forces from opposition protest hubs and complete the pullout by April 10.

U.N. diplomats say President Assad also agreed to several “immediate” steps including a cessation of troop movements toward population centers and the start of a withdrawal of soldiers and heavy weapons already in such areas.

The cease-fire proposal is part of a peace plan drafted by Mr. Annan last month and later endorsed by a U.N. Security Council statement. The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began a year ago.

In spite of the plan, government attacks have continued with scattered violence reported on Tuesday.

International Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger said Tuesday that it was too early to predict results from his meetings with Syrian government officials. The Red Cross chief traveled to Damascus to try to secure an agreement on implementing a daily two-hour pause in attacks to provide humanitarian assistance.