The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously authorized the deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers to Syria to monitor the country's fragile ceasefire, which came into effect Thursday.
Russia and China joined the other 13 council members and voted in favor of the Western-Arab draft resolution. Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, made clear that there were limits to the kind of UN action Moscow could support.
"Out of respect for the sovereignty of Syria we have cautioned against destructive attempts at external interference or imposing any kind of illusory fixes," he said.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Saturday that Moscow was satisfied with the latest Western-Arab draft resolution authorizing the deployment of the first batch of unarmed UN observers to Syria to monitor its fragile truce.
"Having reported to our capital we are now satisfied we can vote on the resolution," Churkin told reporters."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan, who held 90 minutes of talks in Geneva on Saturday, issued a statement welcoming the Security Council's agreement to send an initial team to monitor the ceasefire in Syria and said they would do their best to deploy the monitors "as quickly as possible."
"The Secretary-General reiterated that it is the government of Syria which has the primary responsibility to stop the violence and withdraw its forces," the statement said.
Syrian forces shelled two central districts in the battered city of Homs throughout the night and into Saturday morning, a resident activist as well as a human rights group said, the first bombings since a ceasefire took hold on Thursday.
"There was shelling last night in the old part of the city, in Jouret al-Shiyah and al-Qaradis. And I have heard eight shells fall in the past hour," Karm Abu Rabea, a resident activist who lives in an adjacent neighborhood, said on Saturday morning. Seventeen people were reportedly killed on Saturday.
An estimated 3,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan since the ceasefire went into effect in Syria, according to Jordanian authorities and relief agencies. On Saturday alone some 1,000 Syrians crossed over into Jordan, said charitable associations, adding that they have witnessed a sudden rise in the number of refugees over the last three days.
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