At least 3 killed in shelling, clashes in Syria as UN observers prepare mission
Government forces shell areas in central province of Homs from early morning, with clashes between troops, rebels near the Syrian-Jordanian border; Russian FM: Outside forces are sabotaging Syria peace efforts.
Violence gripped areas across Syria on Tuesday, with at least three people killed, as a United Nations advance team in charge of monitoring a fragile ceasefire in the country started to prepare logistics for their observer mission.
Government forces shelled areas in the central province of Homs from the early morning, while clashes took place between troops and rebels near the Syrian-Jordanian border, opposition activists said.
"The fighting is concentrating in an area called al-Jaat and Basr al-Harir, in the southern province of Daraa. The government forces are trying to storm the area where rebels have strongholds, but all their attempts have so far failed," Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told dpa.
Activists said three people were killed in Daraa.
A spokesman for peacekeeping missions at the UN, Kieran Dwyer, said the important step for observers would be "to get out of Damascus and visit other areas, establish contact with all sides in those cities and towns, and decide where other operational bases can be established."
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit Qatar on Tuesday to take part in an Arab League meeting on Syria.
Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, told a press conference in Rome on Monday that the chances of success for the Annan peace plans were "no higher than 3 per cent."
Under Annan's plan, Syrian authorities were scheduled to withdraw troops and heavy weaponry from civilian areas last week, after a ceasefire was accepted by the government and the rebels. The opposition has said the government has so far not implemented this step.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that unspecified external forces are seeking to undermine efforts to bring peace to Syria.
"They are doing this by delivering arms to the Syrian opposition and stimulating the activity of rebels who continue to attack both government facilities and … civilian facilities on a daily basis," Lavrov said in televised remarks.