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UN advance observers team arrives in Syria to monitor truce

(Xinhua)

10:36, April 16, 2012

DAMASCUS, April 15 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations advance observers' team arrived in the Syrian capital of Damascus late Sunday to monitor the fragile cease-fire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan, sources told Xinhua anonymously.

The arrival of the six-member advance team came a day after the UN Security Council unanimously approved the observers' mission. The team will be backed with other batches of observers over the next period, and the total number of observers may eventually reach 250.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which is the first legally-binding UN document since the outbreak of the crisis in the Middle East country in March 2011.

Russia and China, which had vetoed two previous UN resolutions forcing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, called on all parties to support Annan's mediation and cooperate with the advance team.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, called on all parties to "establish favorable conditions including from the standpoint of ensuring security" for the UN observers.

"It is essential that all Syrian parties including the armed opposition quickly refrain from violence, strictly observe the Annan plan, and begin to organize a broad-based negotiating process," Churkin said.

Meanwhile, Chinese UN Ambassador Li Baodong said Saturday that "We need to guard against any attempt to create difficulties or trouble for Mr. Annan's mediation."

The observers' mission came as part of the six-point plan by Annan that meant to solve the Syrian crisis politically.

The plan calls for a troop withdrawal from populated areas by April 10 and a cease-fire by April 12, and also for allowing in foreign media and peaceful demonstrations.

Syria has officially agreed on the plan and observed a cease- fire that went into effect last Thursday.

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