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U.N. team on standby for Syria

April 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM   |   Comments

DAMASCUS, Syria, April 13 (UPI) -- A team of 30 military observers is on standby to begin monitoring a brokered cease-fire in Syria, a spokesman for a U.N.-backed peace envoy said.

Syrian forces faced a Thursday deadline to withdraw from the streets under the terms of a peace plan brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Reports following the Thursday deadline were mixed. Mousab Hamadee, an activist from the city of Hama, said Friday to the BBC that Syrian forces had fired on demonstrators in the city's central square.

"Two of my colleagues were martyred," he said.

Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for Annan, told al-Jazeera a team of unarmed observers was on standby to begin a monitoring mission once the U.N. Security Council approves of the mission.

"With every cessation of hostilities there will be skirmishes, this is not unusual, sometimes the parties test each other," he said. "There may continue to be skirmishes for hours or even days but the fact of the matter remains that heavy shelling ... has died down."

The official Syrian Arab News Agency reports that military forces were able to thwart an "armed terrorist group" from infiltrating from Turkey to Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the BBC Thursday that his country would take "any preparation" to defend its borders.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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