Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, the leader of the UN's advance team of monitors, in Damascus Thursday
Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, the leader of the UN's advance team tasked with monitoring the UN-backed ceasefire in Syria, speaks to the press in Damascus on April 19, 2012. Syria on Thursday signed a preliminary accord outlining a protocol for a UN mission to monitor a fragile week-old ceasefire in the strife-torn country, the foreign ministry announced. © Louai Beshara - AFP
Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, the leader of the UN's advance team of monitors, in Damascus Thursday
AFP
Last updated: April 19, 2012

Protocol for UN Syria observer mission signed

Syria on Thursday signed a preliminary accord outlining a protocol for a UN mission to monitor a fragile week-old ceasefire in the strife-torn country, the two sides announced.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad signed the deal with a member of a UN advance team, the ministry said in a statement.

"This agreement comes within the framework of Syrian efforts aimed at making the Annan plan succeed and to facilitate the UN observer mission while respecting Syria's sovereignty," the statement said.

A spokesman for UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who drafted the six-point ceasefire accord, confirmed in Geneva that an agreement had been concluded between the two parties.

"This agreement outlines the functions of the observers as they fulfil their mandate in Syria and the tasks and responsibilities of the Syrian government in this regard," Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement.

"An effective observer team on the ground is vital if the lives of ordinary Syrian families are to slowly return to normal."

He added that discussions were under way with members of the Syrian opposition to ensure they also comply with the ceasefire.

"The hard part lies ahead, a truly Syrian-led and -owned political dialogue to address the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Syrian people," Fawzi said.

The protocol will pave the way for some 300 UN observers to fan across the country to monitor a week-old truce aimed at ending 13 months of violence in Syria that the United Nations says has killed well over 9,000 people.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon earlier called for an expanded UN ceasefire observation mission to be sent to Syria even though he says President Bashar al-Assad has failed to end the violence.

The UN chief called for 300 unarmed observers to be sent on a three-month mission, in a report to be discussed by the UN Security Council later Thursday.

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