First U.N. Observers Land in Syriaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The first international observers tasked with monitoring a shaky U.N.-backed ceasefire arrived Sunday in Syria, where regime forces pounded a rebel city.
"They've arrived and they will start work tomorrow morning," said Kieran Dwyer, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping department announcing that six observers were now in Syria.
Earlier forces loyal to President Bashar Assad killed several civilians in shelling of rebel areas in the flashpoint central city of Homs and clashes with gunmen.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "very much concerned" at the renewed killings and urged the government to ensure that the ceasefire does not collapse.
State-run news agency SANA said Syria "welcomes" the observer mission, and hoped the monitors will see for themselves the "crimes" committed by "armed terrorist groups."
SANA also reported that Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will visit ally China to discuss the mission of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan who designed the ceasefire.
Regime forces subjected the Khaldiyeh and Bayada neighborhoods of Homs to their fiercest bombardment since the truce came into force at dawn on Thursday, monitors said.
With clashes warming up and both sides blaming each other for the violence, Syria insisted that its sovereignty must be respected.
"Syria endorsed the U.N. observer mission because it has nothing to hide and hopes that these observers will convey the real picture of what is happening on the ground," the official news agency said.
SANA reiterated the regime's repeated accusations that "armed terrorist groups funded and armed by foreign parties" are responsible for the violence in Syria.
Syria accepted observers because its "main request was the monitoring of the terrorists' crimes" and because it was part Annan's six-point plan which Damascus accepted, SANA said.
Ban voiced concern over the shelling of Homs.
"I am very much concerned about what has happened since yesterday and today," he said. "It is important, absolutely important, that the Syrian government should take all the measures to keep this cessation of violence."
The U.N. chief said he would present on Thursday his proposal to enlarge the U.N. monitoring mission, which will have 30 unarmed military observers at first, to 250 people.
The six observers who arrived Sunday in Syria are the first of 30 monitors who were approved by the U.N. Security Council in a vote Saturday. "The other monitors in the advance party are still expected in Syria in coming days," Dwyer added.