Syria Fighting Continues as UN Moves to Send Peacekeepers

Fierce clashes between government troops and rebel forces in Syria continued Tuesday as the United Nations moved to send a team to Damascus to discuss the deployment of peace monitors in the country.

Syrian activists and rights groups say shelling erupted in several areas, including Homs.  In Idlib province, heavy fighting took place on the outskirts of the town of Taftanaz.  Several deaths were reported nationwide.

Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, announced Tuesday that an advance U.N. team is due to arrive in Syria within 48 hours.  He told VOA the team would work out the details of deploying international monitors to the country.

An injured man gets treated in a Damascus neighborhood, Syria, Tuesday, April 3, 2012.
An injured man gets treated in a Damascus neighborhood, Syria, Tuesday, April 3, 2012.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, is in Damascus in a bid to arrange a two-hour humanitarian cease-fire in areas where fighting continues.  An ICRC spokesman, Saleh Dabbakeh, said the organization has made progress recently in reaching victims of fighting and refugees that have become displaced inside Syria.

Syrian state-run media said Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem pledged cooperation with the relief group.

The diplomatic efforts came a day after Mr. Annan said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to begin pulling his forces out of opposition protest hubs and complete the pullout by April 10.

Watch related video of violence in Syria

Middle East Institute scholar Wayne White told VOA a possible peacekeeping deployment and promises of a cease-fire from the Syrian leader are not necessarily indications that government's crackdown on dissent is ending. "What we could see is deployment of observers and, as with the case of the Arab League observers, the observers leaving with dismay because their presence was not apparently meaning anything, especially to the Syrian government," he said.

White also said he does not expect Assad to change his stance against the opposition. "Unfortunately, this is going to be a fight to the finish.  I think that Assad will not leave office unless he is driven from office and he will not stop hammering the opposition until the opposition gives up, if it ever does.  It is to some degree a slugging match," he said.

The cease-fire proposal is part of a peace plan drafted by Mr. Annan last month and later endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.  The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began 13 months ago.

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Comment Sorting
by: Daniel J Philbin
April 05, 2012 6:52 PM
Do we want peace with and from Assad? Or do we want regime change? Can the UN support a regime change within its peacekeeping mandate?

by: michael
April 04, 2012 4:39 AM
Since al-Assad had agreed on moving forces, it shows that access has been achieved to the inner circle, so those diplomatic efforts mentioned have and are doing a praiseworthy job

April 03, 2012 6:33 AM
Has Gadhafi troop killed above 1,000 people before NATO intervention???Has civilians of Syria are different from Libyan people????(UN OR ICC OR G8,16,20) Gadhafi is this/that but Libya is No.1 valuable currency in Africa.

by: NVO
April 03, 2012 5:24 AM
The UN: hand in hand with the Bilderbergs, The Trilateral Commission, The Club of Rome, The Council On Foreing Relations, ALL pushing for a One World Government under The New World Order. Don't be deceived!

by: Joseph Zrnchik
April 03, 2012 4:55 AM
If arming rebels is dissent, I wish we had more dissent in the US. Arming rebels used to mean interfering is someone else's civil war. In the US, Lincoln slaughtered and destroyed his way to victory and is hailed as one of the greatest presidents. He had Sherman burn town after town to the ground.

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