Fresh violence erupted in Syria just hours before the first group of UN observers arrived in Damascus on 15 April to observe a ceasefire.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces reportedly launched air attacks on six areas in the western city of Homs in the early hours of 15 April, just three days after a UN and Arab League-backed ceasefire came into force on 12 April.
The first six monitors entered Syria after the UN Security Council passed a resolution regarding their deployment on 14 April. The monitors have been tasked with ensuring that both sides adhere to the terms of the ceasefire, although the fresh wave of attacks has cast further doubts on whether peace can be maintained.
The UN Security Council has approved the deployment of 30 monitors, although UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has said the number of monitors could increase to more than 200 in the future.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the size of the initial monitoring team needed to be increased significantly. “This number of people cannot possibly effectively monitor what is happening in the whole country,” said Hague in a live TV interview.
According to the UN, at least 9,000 people are estimated to have been killed in a brutal government crackdown by the Al-Assad regime since protests against his rule began in March last year.