The head of the U.N. military observer mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, said on Thursday that it was the responsibility of the Syrian army to make the first move to halt the violence.
"If you have two individuals using on each other all their weapons, who is going to be the first one to move the finger? Who is going to be the first one to make the move?" Mood asked, during a visit to the battered central city of Homs.
"My approach to that is that the strongest part needs to make the first move," he told reporters.
"I was referring to the Syrian government and the Syrian army. They have the strength, they have the position and they also have the potential generosity to make the first step in a good direction," he said, when pressed on whether he was speaking about regime forces.
Mood insisted that the U.N. observers, who started deploying in Syria last month to oversee a putative truce brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, have not had their movements restricted by the Syrian authorities.
"Whether we have experienced any hampering in our freedom of movement, my answer is no. We have made our plans and we have moved where we wanted to move," the Norwegian general said.
"The starting point is that we have received very explicit and clear commitments from both sides that they want to move in the direction of less violence. But there is a lot of suspicion," he added.
"(Regarding) the situation on the ground ... in the specific locations we have seen more commitments on the ground by the action of the government forces. So we have seen positive signs on the ground."
An advance team of unarmed U.N. observers arrived in Syria on April 16 and their presence has slowly increased, with the monitors due to reach their full complement of around 300 in the coming weeks.
Mood said that from Friday there would be eight observers in the southern province of Daraa, 12 in Homs, eight in Hama and four in the northwestern province of Idlib, adding that their presence was having a positive effect.
"Since I arrived on the ground we have seen less shelling with artillery, less mortar fire."
The United Nations has accused both sides to the conflict of failing to abide by the terms of the ceasefire which it has admitted has not been holding.
After visiting Hama and Homs on Thursday, two flashpoint regions that have seen heavy fighting between government troops and rebels, Mood stressed that the aim of his mission was to monitor the ceasefire and the full implementation of Annan's six-point peace plan.
The plan calls for a halt to fighting, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from urban areas, a daily humanitarian ceasefire, media access, an inclusive political process, and the right to demonstrate as well as the release of detainees.
|Copyright © 2012 Naharnet.com. All Rights Reserved.||http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/39067|