U.N. observers acknowledged on Tuesday that they face a tough task to firm up a ceasefire in Syria, as more civilians were killed in the latest violence on the sixth day of a tenuous truce.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces killed five civilians, while the Local Coordination Committees, the main activist group spurring protests on the ground, said 66 civilians were killed across the country.
The LCC said 37 people were killed in Idlib, including eight summarily executed, 21 in Homs, six in Daraa, one in Damascus and one in the Damascus suburb of Yabrud.
Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, a Moroccan who heads an advance team of six members preparing for the deployment of a 30-person mission, said the observers would move forward one step at a time.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was still "hoping for the best" but was discussing with other powers what to do in the event the peace plan collapses.
Her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, pointed the finger at the opposition -- 11 of 35 people killed in violence on Monday were soldiers -- and called on its foreign supporters to press the rebels to honor the hard-won truce.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon called on regime forces to exercise "maximum restraint" and the opposition to "fully cooperate."
Three of the five dead on Tuesday were killed in regime shelling of Idlib, a northwestern province close to the Turkish border, where there is a strong presence of rebel fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Shelling killed two more and wounded dozens at Basr al-Harir in southern Daraa province, cradle of the 13-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the Britain-based watchdog said.
The rebel districts of Khaldiyeh and Bayyada in the flashpoint central city of Homs also came under renewed shelling, it added.
The opposition Syrian National Council accused the regime of "flagrant violations of the ceasefire" and called on the U.N. observers to "travel to Idlib and Homs immediately to see first-hand the massacres which the regime is carrying out and has not stopped carrying out."
U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who brokered the peace plan, was to travel to Qatar for a ministerial meeting of the Arab League on the crisis later on Tuesday, his spokesman said.
Colonel Himmiche said "it's a difficult mission that needs coordination and planning."
"No ceasefire, not even the beginnings of a political process -- this mission will be one of the toughest ever undertaken by the United Nations," he added.
Clinton called on Damascus to honor Annan's plan in full, not just the promised ceasefire.
"What the Assad regime needs to do is to make clear that they're going to silence their guns, withdraw their troops and work toward fulfilling the six-point plan," she said.
Complying with the plan also means allowing peaceful demonstrations, releasing political prisoners and allowing a peaceful political transition to begin, Clinton added.
"We want to see a political process begin, but if violence is renewed, the regime reverts to shelling its own people and causing a great deal of death and injury, then we're going to have to get back to planning what our next steps (are)."
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said "stronger sanctions" against Damascus must be adopted to "pressure the Syrian regime" and erode its resources.
Damascus ally Moscow took aim, without naming them, at supporters of the rebels, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, for what it acknowledged was a "fragile" truce.
"There are countries -- there are outside forces - that are not interested in the success of current U.N. Security Council efforts," Lavrov said.
But in a clear reference to Moscow, a group of 50 countries supporting sanctions against Assad's regime on Tuesday expressed "strong disapproval of any financial or other support, in particular the continuation of arms sales to the Syrian regime."
Russia, which voted in favor of the text after vetoing two previous draft resolutions, will be "substantially" represented in the U.N. mission, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
"The specifics of our participation in the observers mission are being worked on right now," Interfax quoted Ryabkov as saying.
The advance team of military observers had arrived in Damascus late on Sunday, and the Local Coordination Committees activist group said that "cars carrying the observers arrived in Daraa accompanied by army vehicles."
A spike in deadly violence forced the Arab League to end its own Syrian monitoring mission in late January, barely a month after sending observers.
The U.N. chief voiced concern late Monday.
"I am very much concerned about what has happened since yesterday and today," Ban said.
"It is important, absolutely important, that the Syrian government should take all the measures to keep this cessation of violence," he said, adding that Damascus must "guarantee" free access countrywide to the military observers.
Anti-regime activists have advised fellow citizens to "speak the truth, that's what freedom is about" when they meet the U.N. observers.
Meanwhile, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will visit China on Wednesday, Beijing announced, to showcase efforts taken by Damascus to execute the U.N. ceasefire.
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