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3:40pm UK, Saturday April 14, 2012
Russia has reportedly called on all sides in Syria to “strictly” obey UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, after forces loyal to the government shelled the city of Homs.
The reports of violence come two days after a ceasefire began and ahead of a United Nations Security Council vote at around 1600 BST on a Western-Arab draft resolution authorising a team to monitor the fragile ceasefire.
On Saturday activists reported that four people were killed after forces opened fire at a funeral in Aleppo.
Rebel gunmen also apparently ambushed a car carrying soldiers in the southern province of Daraa.
The draft resolution calls on the regime to allow access for up to 30 unarmed military observers.
It is unclear how many additional monitors will be sent in the coming weeks, but diplomatic sources suggest as many as 500.
The Russian foreign ministry said: “The resolution on the deployment into Syria of a UN monitoring mission advance group has been practically agreed for adoption at the UN Security Council.”
The Council has threatened to consider “further steps” if Syria does not comply.
International pressure has grown for Syria to fulfil all its commitments to peace envoy Mr Annan by withdrawing troops and heavy weapons, permitting humanitarian and media access, releasing prisoners and discussing a political transition.
US and European UN delegations had to revise the draft resolution late on Friday after Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters it needed cutting out “all the things which are not really necessary for this particular purpose”.
In the re-written draft, wording has been changed and weakened slightly, in some cases from “demands” to “calls upon” or “requests”.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other activists in Homs said shelling had wounded several people overnight.
Syrians took to the streets across the country in small demonstrations on Friday, trusting the truce would put an end to the bullets that have frightened off peaceful protesters for months.
But Syrian forces loyal to Assad shot dead five protesters after Friday prayers, activists reported, adding that security forces came out in strength in many cities to prevent protesters mounting major rallies against Assad.
The United Nations estimates that Assad’s forces have killed more than 9,000 people since the uprising began. Authorities blame the violence on foreign-backed militants who they say have killed more than 2,500 soldiers and police.