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Security Council Approves Monitoring Mission to Syria
April 15, 2012

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Syria is facing its first united U.N. resolution, after the Security Council voted unanimously to approve a mission of 30 unarmed observers to oversee a cease-fire between government troops and opposition forces. Either Russia or China or both had previously vetoed resolutions regarding Syria.

Meanwhile, the cease-fire was in varying degrees of being in effect, with both sides trading accusations of violence. The government of President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to terms brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the condition that rebels sign a binding resolution requiring them to lay down their arms and come peacefully to a bargaining session. Leaders of the opposition had requested a similar pledge from the government.

As has been the case for the past 13 months, reports of shooting and deaths came from both sides. Annan's peace plan, which will eventually send more than 250 observers to the country, calls for government troops to withdraw from major urban areas, including in cities such as Homs, which has been the target of fierce government shelling in the past several months. Another report from the opposition hotbed of Aleppo reported soliders firing on protesters at a funeral march. Meanwhile, government news reports quoted witnesses as saying they saw opposition forces attacking government troops.

A clear picture of who is firing on whom continues to murky because the Syrian government continues to keep international journalists officially out of disputed areas. News reports of the fighting have come primarily from witnesses on the ground; many reports have come via social media.

China and Russia agreed to the resolution only after convincing representatives of the other 13 members of the Security Council to remove the word "demand" from the wording, which now "calls upon" Syria to observe the cease-fire.

In addition for insisting that the fighting end on both sides, Annan's six-point peace plan calls for an ongoing dialogue between the government and the opposition that leads to a "political transition" for the country. Many high-ranking officials, including leaders of Western countries, have called for Assad to step down as president in the wake of what humanitarian groups say is a death toll that exceeded 9,000. The Syrian government has continued to insist that it is beset by "terrorist forces" funded by outside means.



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