International Pressure Intensifies to Hold Syria Cease-fire

Posted April 12th, 2012 at 2:35 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

International pressure was intensifying Thursday on Syria to maintain a fragile truce with its opponents, as Russia and China said they will support deploying an observer mission to Syria to monitor the cease-fire that went into effect early Thursday. From the United Nations, VOA's Margaret Besheer reports the truce was holding, despite scattered violence.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow is encouraged by the truce, but that all parties need to behave with “maximum prudence” for it to hold.

He said he hopes the U.N. Security Council will adopt by Friday a resolution required to authorize an advance group of 20 to 30 unarmed observers to monitor the cease-fire. A larger deployment will follow later.

“It is crucial for the monitors to be on the ground to make sure that any transgressions of the current state of [the] end of violence are going to be detected. Everybody must refrain from any hint and provocation. We are concerned at the possibility of provocations. We are concerned about the appeals for massive demonstrations. This is the opposite to what needs to happen in Syria now. We need to take advantage of the no violence situation in order to build on that.”

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong, who has remained mostly silent in public since the Syrian crisis began more than a year ago, also expressed his government's support for U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and his request for a monitoring mission for Syria.

Ambassador Li called on the parties in Syria to fulfill their international commitments.

“We hope Syrian government will fully and credibly meet its obligations to implement the cease-fire, to continue to give its support and cooperation to Kofi Annan's mediation efforts, and shore-up and sustain the political process in Syria. And also we hope that opposition parties, they will also lay down their arms, stop fighting, implement cease-fire and support Kofi Annan's mediation efforts.”

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was cautious in her hopes for the monitoring mission, telling reporters it could only be successful if it is unobstructed.

“That monitoring mission will only be a force for peace and security if it enjoys the full freedom of action within Syria. And that means freedom of movement, secure communications, a large enough ground presence to bear witness to the enforcement of the six-point plan in every part of Syria.”

Mr. Annan said he too was “encouraged” by reports that the cease-fire seemed to be holding, despite scattered violence. But U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Syria that the “world is watching with skeptical eyes.”

Activists reported a few deaths Thursday and dozens of arrests, but the nascent truce appeared to largely be holding.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who holds the Security Council's presidency this month, briefed reporters after Mr. Annan updated the council via a video briefing from Geneva. She said Mr. Annan stressed that Thursday's truce does not constitute full compliance with his plan.

“Mr. Annan confirmed that what has happened today does not constitute full compliance by the Syrian government, in particular of Item 2 of his six point plan as Syrian forces and weapons remain in and around population centers. He emphasized that Syrian troops and armor must return to their barracks immediately.”

Syria's ambassador told reporters his government is committed to making Mr. Annan's plan work. He urged both the armed opposition and the countries supporting it not to work against the plan. He added that Syria has no objections to the presence of a monitoring force and is working with the United Nations on the final technical details.