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UN: Both sides in Syria violating cease-fire

UN: Both sides in Syria violating cease-fire

The U.N. peacekeeping chief said Tuesday that U.N. military observers in Syria are reporting cease-fire violations from the government and opposition and he demanded an immediate halt to all violence.
Herve Ladsous refused to say which side was responsible for the most violations. But he said the unarmed observers have documented a number of Syrian heavy weapons deployed in populated areas _ including armored personnel carriers and Howitzers _ despite the government's claim that it had withdrawn tanks and troops from cities and towns as required under international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.
"The reports which we are already receiving from the military observers ... clearly show that all the parties need to take further steps to ensure a full, sustained cessation of violence in all its forms," Ladsous said at a news conference. "I think the violations that are observed come from both sides. I would not establish a ratio. Now is not the time ... The important fact is that violations do come from both sides."
Twenty-four observers were in Syria on Tuesday in five locations _ Damascus, Homs, Hams, Daraa and Idlib _ all hotspots in the 13-month uprising that by U.N. account has killed more than 9,000 people, Ladsous said at a news conference.
He said the U.N. has commitments for about 150 observers, with new pledges coming in daily, and expects a rapid increase that will see the authorized total of 300 observers on the ground by the end of May.
But Ladsous said this requires Syria to give visas to the observers and it has already denied visas to three observers without reason. He declined to disclose their nationalities.
He said there were "verbal comments" from the Syrians about the Friends of Democratic Syria, which includes more than 70 nations including the U.S., many European countries and a number of Mideast nations. President Bashar Assad's government said it would refuse visas to observers from the "Friends" group.
Ladsous said it is the U.N. peacekeeping department's responsibility to appoint observers and if Syrian authorities don't cooperate, "we report to the Security Council," as he did last week.
He said he expects the U.N. and Syria to sign an agreement "very rapidly" on the operation of the U.N. mission.
But Ladsous said Assad's government still refuses to allow the U.N. to use its own helicopters and air assets, and discussions are continuing on that issue.
Even though only a small number of U.N. observers are on the ground, "already they have had a visible impact, an effective impact," Ladsous said. Not only do the observers see what is going on, but "their presence has the potential to change the political dynamics."
"They help build calm, and calm helps the political process that Mr. Annan is leading," he added.


Updated : 2021-06-15 11:31 GMT+08:00