Seven Killed in Syria as More UN Monitors Arrive

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
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Activists say Syrian forces killed at least seven people on Wednesday as a small group of U.N. observers resumed their mission to monitor a shaky truce in the government's year-long conflict with rebels.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says four people were killed and several wounded when security forces opened fire on a bus at a government checkpoint in the northern province of Idlib.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency says security forces killed one “terrorist” in Idlib province after stopping an “attempted infiltration” of armed militants from Turkey. It is unclear if the report was referring to the same incident.

Rights groups also say security forces killed two people in suburban Damascus and that a child died after being struck by gunfire in the eastern region of Deir el-Zour.

The Associated Press said four more U.N. monitors arrived in Damascus, joining 11 who began the observer mission last week.

The U.N. Security Council has approved an expansion of the mission to 300 personnel. In a Tuesday briefing, peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous predicted 30 observers would be in place by the end of the week and the number would reach 100 within a month.

Diplomats said Wednesday that the Security Council intends to make Norwegian Major General Robert Mood, the head of the advance team of observers, the head of the full observer mission.

The observer mission is part of a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan. He told the council Tuesday that the was concerned about media reports that Syrian troops had attacked civilian areas following visits by observers.

Middle East expert Joshua Landis, who lived in Syria, told VOA many citizens do not have faith that Mr. Annan's mission will resolve the unrest.

“All the Syrians I know are very distraught. They are very worried. Even those who support the regime – and I know a fair number who do – they can't see anything good coming out of this. They are getting angrier at Bashar. On the other hand, they don't like the opposition.”

The Washington Post said Wednesday that Syria's cash reserves are quickly dwindling as a result of international sanctions.

However, Landis says the international community should not expect Mr. Assad to resign, despite mounting economic pressure and the increasing presence of monitors.

“He's gaining a few more days of his life. The moment he gives up, he's going to be a dead man. He's going to be hung from the yardarm along with a lot of people around him. So, he's fighting for his life.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's 13-month crackdown on the revolt, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.