U.N. chief calls for hundreds more monitors in Syria

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Hundreds more observers should be sent to Syria to ensure it follows an internationally brokered peace plan, which has yet to halt the bloodshed, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday.

“Despite the government’s agreement to cease all violence, we still see deeply troubling evidence that it continues,” Ban told reporters in New York.

Ban said he recommended to the U.N. Security Council that up to 300 military observers “supported by a civilian component” go to Syria. The council voted Saturday to send a first wave of up to 30 unarmed observers to the embattled country; seven monitors are reportedly now on the ground.

The peace plan brokered by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan called for a cease-fire last week, followed by political talks between the opposition and the government, humanitarian aid and other steps in an attempt to halt the hostilities that have raged in Syria for more than a year.

But both sides say that attacks have continued, each blaming the other for the violence. The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition activist network, reported that at least 25 people had been killed Thursday in ongoing shelling and gunfire.

Ban added that at least 230,000 people had been displaced by the violence and an estimated 1 million people needed humanitarian aid.

"Despite assurances from the government, there has been no meaningful progress on the ground," he said. "This is unacceptable."

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: A group of U.N. observers tour the Damascus suburbs on Wednesday. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency / Syrian Arab News Agency

 
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