Ban proposes force of up to 300 unarmed truce monitors

    UNITED NATIONS, Apr 19: Syria has not fully complied with a UN-backed peace plan for the country and has yet to send a ‘clear signal’ about its commitment to ending more than a year of violence, the UN chief told the Security Council in a letter obtained by Reuters.
At the same time, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced hope that there may be a chance for progress on ending a 13-month conflict that has brought Syria to the brink of civil war.
Ban yesterday proposed an expanded UN monitoring mission, which, if approved by the council, would be comprised of ‘an initial deployment’ of up to 300 unarmed observers to supervise a fragile week-old ceasefire between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters seeking to oust him.
But he cautioned that the fighting had not ended.
‘The Syrian Government has yet to fully implement its initial obligations regarding the actions and deployments of its troops, or to return them to barracks,’ he said in a preliminary assessment of Syria’s compliance with a resolution on Syria the Security Council passed on  Saturday.
‘Violent incidents and reports of casualties have escalated again in recent days, with reports of shelling of civilian areas and abuses by Government forces,’ he said. ‘The Government reports violent actions by armed  groups.’
‘The cessation of armed violence is therefore clearly incomplete,’ Ban said, adding that both sides say they are committed to ending the ‘violence in all its forms.’
Diplomats on the 15-nation council say Ban’s report and a briefing they will receive from U.N .-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan’s deputy, Jean-Marie Guehenno, on Thursday at 9:00 am will be crucial in determining whether the conditions are right for deploying a larger monitoring mission to Syria.
US and European diplomats on the council have suggested that Syria’s lack of full compliance with its obligations to end the violence might make it difficult for them to support a new resolution that would be needed to deploy an expanded observer mission. (agencies)