News

Top UN Truce Monitor in Syria, Urges Halt to Killings

UN-appointed Norwegian Major General Robert Mood talks to the media after his arrival at Damascus airport, April 29, 2012.
UN-appointed Norwegian Major General Robert Mood talks to the media after his arrival at Damascus airport, April 29, 2012.

The newly appointed head of the United Nations observer mission in Syria has called on President Bashar al-Assad's troops and the opposition to stop fighting and allow a tenuous cease-fire to take hold.

Major General Robert Mood arrived in the capital, Damascus, on Sunday to lead an advance team of 30 unarmed U.N. observers tasked with monitoring an April 12 truce that has been plagued by continued fighting.

The Norwegian general appealed for a "cessation of all armed violence" but said U.N. monitors "cannot solve all the problems" in Syria, asking for cooperation from forces loyal to Mr. Assad as well as rebels seeking to end his rule.

Even as he spoke Sunday, activists reported at least 25 people killed in violence throughout the country, including 14 civilians shot dead by troops in the village of Hamadi Omar in central Hama province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group tracking the conflict, said other fatalities included two people killed by government snipers in Homs, and three soldiers who died in clashes with army defectors.

Also Sunday, an Islamist group calling itself the "al-Nusra Front" claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least nine people in Damascus on Friday.

The latest casualty figures as well as the claim for the attack Friday could not be independently confirmed.

Al-Nusra named the bomber as Abu Omar al-Shami and said he detonated his explosives amidst 150 Syrian security forces who were gathered outside the Zain al-Abideen mosque in the capital's Midan district.

The group has also claimed responsibility for a January suicide bombing in Midan and other bombings in Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo.

Since the truce took effect, forces loyal to Mr. Assad have continued assaulting opposition hubs, while rebel fighters have repeatedly ambushed government security personnel. Each side has accused the other of provoking attacks.

The U.N.-backed cease-fire is part of a peace plan mediated by international envoy Kofi Annan.

A spokesman for the U.N. mission in Syria said observers have set up permanent bases in the towns of Homs, Hama, Daraa and Idlib, all areas of the opposition targeted in the government's 13-month crackdown.

Neeraj Singh also said it is a "matter of utmost urgency" for the United Nations to expand the monitoring mission in Syria to include all of the 300 personnel authorized by the U.N. Security Council. It is unclear when and if the full contingent will be deployed.

General Mood has years of experience in U.N. peacekeeping operations, including with peacekeepers in Lebanon, as well as leading the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization from 2009 to 2011. The UNTSO was the U.N.'s first peacekeeping operation, started after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war to monitor a cease-fire. It now watches cease-fires around the Middle East.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs