U.N. Security Council To Vote On Syria Observer Mission

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

(CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Saturday on a draft resolution that would expand the size of a U.N. monitoring mission in Syria, Western diplomats said.

The draft calls for Syrian regime's immediate implementation of a six-point peace plan laid out by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and calls for both the government and opposition to cease violence. It would also authorize the deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers, who would be expected to ensure compliance with a cease-fire imposed last week.

Reports of bloodshed dropped in the days immediately after the cease-fire deadline, but accounts of terror and violence have ratcheted up since.

At least 57 people were killed across Syria on Friday alone, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists. At least 21 people were killed in Homs, the group said.

"Fear is spreading among the residents after arrival of military reinforcements and heavy security deployment," the opposition group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency continued their blame of "armed terrorist groups" for violence, saying such terrorists detonated a bomb that killed 10 law enforcement members in Daraa province.

CNN cannot independently verify reports of violence and deaths, as the government has severely restricted access by international media.

The Security Council previously approved the deployment of an advance team of 30 monitors meant to pave the way for a larger group of observers.

A handful of observers are already in Syria; a total of 30 is expected over the course of next week, said Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for Annan.

He said the observers in the country have not yet been to Homs, which has been a hotbed for dissent and bloodshed in recent months.

"The situation on the ground is not good, as we all know," Fawzi said. "It's a very fragile cease-fire. There are casualties every day. There are incidents every day, and we have to do everything we can to stop what's going on: the killing, the violence in all its forms."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the initial three-month observer mission to be expanded to 300 monitors in 10 locations, and asked the Security Council to authorize the expanded number.

The United Nations and Syria reached agreement Thursday on a protocol for the advance monitoring team and other observers.

Russia -- which, along with China, has blocked action against the Syrian regime -- called for the quick approval of the Security Council resolution to deploy more monitors. Russia also said a Syrian opposition delegation will visit Moscow next week.

Meanwhile, China said it will send observers to join the U.N. monitoring mission, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

The international community wants an end to the bloodshed, but the Security Council is split between Western countries demanding tough measures against al-Assad, and Russia and China, the two countries on the 15-member Security Council that has quashed attempts to formally condemn the Syrian regime.

Ban said Syria has not lived up to its promise to withdraw troops from cities, a key element of the Annan peace plan.

The plan calls on both sides to end the violence, allow access to humanitarian groups, release detainees and begin a political dialogue.

It also says demonstrators should be able to protest peacefully. While there was a restrained regime response to demonstrations a week ago, Ban said, there were attempts to intimidate protesters, including reports of gunfire by government troops.

There has also been no significant release of detainees and no substantive progress on providing humanitarian assistance, another point of the peace plan, Ban said.

Syria has been engulfed in violence for 13 months, since the government started lethally cracking down on peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The president's family has ruled Syria for 42 years.

The United Nations estimates that at least 9,000 people have died since the protests began, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.


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