More observers expected in Syria

May 1, 2012 at 4:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- Though violence is continuing in Syria, more than 50 monitors are expected on the ground by the end of the week, a U.S. State Department official said.

Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the head of a U.N. observer mission in Syria, arrived this week in Damascus. There are an estimated 30 monitors on the ground and 21 more are expected by the end of the week, said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Nuland said the U.S. government had seen reports that 27 people were killed in Syria this week, including several who died during a suicide bombing in Idlib and in Damascus. She said Syrian extremists, as well as the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, may be exploiting the security situation in the country.

"We can't evaluate who's fully responsible for some of these things unless and until we have a fully observed situation," she said. "But we have been concerned that as this goes on and as the Assad regime refuses to set its own example of silencing its guns, that there could be exploitation of the violence."

Mood will eventually lead a team of 300 unarmed observers. As he arrived in Damascus he called on all parties to the violence in Syria to lay down their weapons.

"Ten unarmed observers, 30 unarmed observers, 300 unarmed observers, even a thousand unarmed observers cannot solve all the problems," he was quoted by the BBC as saying.

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