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Minister: More monitors welcome in Syria

April 18, 2012 at 7:27 AM   |   Comments

DAMASCUS, Syria, April 18 (UPI) -- Syria welcomes the deployment of more U.N. monitors to ensure a cease-fire takes hold, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said.

Syrian officials also said the country would offer aircraft to the observers, but opposition activists said Syrian forces have kept up their deadly attacks on opposition strongholds, CNN reported.

Government forces shelled civilian homes in Homs, which also witnessed intense gunfire and military aircraft flying overhead, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria said. The opposition group said gunfire and explosions rocked Daraa.

At least nine people died early Wednesday, including three in Homs and two each Idlib and Hama, the Local Coordination Committees said. Aleppo and Damascus suburbs also had a fatality each.

Monitors arrived in Syria this week after the U.N. Security Council authorized deployment of a 30-member advance team.

In Beijing, Moallem said Syria would welcome more observers to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire. China is a major trade partner with Syria.

"The presence of 250 international observers is logical and possible," Moallem said. "Syria has a real interest in the international observers' mission because our purpose is the stability of the Syrian people."

China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, urged Syria to comply with the cease-fire developed by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, as well as to implement Annan's plan to end the violence.

Syria has been wracked by violence since a popular uprising against President Bashar Assad's government more than a year ago. The United Nations estimates at least 9,000 people have died, but other groups said the death toll was greater than 11,000.

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