UN Decision Looms for Syria, Unrest Continues

Posted April 21st, 2012 at 8:45 am (UTC-5)
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The U.N. is set to vote Saturday on a plan to send 300 unarmed observers to Syria where anti-government unrest has continued in spite of a week-old ceasefire agreement.

Activists say explosions rocked a military airport near the capital on Saturday. Meanwhile, the government says “armed terrorists” planted an explosive device near a pipeline in the eastern Deir el-Zour province.

Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council reached a tentative agreement on Friday to boost the size of the observer mission in Syria. The council had already approved an advance team of 30 monitors but analysts say many more observers are needed to carry out the U.N. mission.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency says monitors visited the flashpoint city of Homs, on Saturday, where they met with the regional governor and toured several neighborhoods.

The Homs region has been the site of intense government shelling for more than a week but activists say the city was quiet Saturday.

On Friday, rights groups said Syrian forces killed at least 11 civilians, including several in the Homs region.

The U.N. estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's more than year-long crackdown on dissent.

Hivin Kako, of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told VOA the cease-fire and peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan is Syria's last hope.

“This is the last chance to save the country and to move forward towards democracy and a transitional period in a peaceful way. Otherwise, the country will be dragged into a war.”

Diplomats are also trying to muster relief for the growing number of Syrians in need. But the operations director for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs admitted even that has been difficult.

John Ging said, “what we have today is we have a forum where not everybody agrees on everything but where everybody does agree on one thing, and that is the imperative for humanitarian action.” He said the need for medical supplies and food assistance have become paramount, especially in areas that have seen the most fighting.