BEIRUT - Unrelenting bloodshed in Syria
complicated preparations by a team of UN observers on Tuesday
to monitor a truce that has brought only short-lived breaks in
violence since Syrian President Bashar Assad pledged to enforce it
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the ceasefire had
been "generally observed" although there was still violence, but
the mission of 250 observers would be "not enough considering
the current situation and the vastness of the country."
He said in Luxembourg that the United Nations was asking the
European Union to provide helicopters and planes to improve the
mobility of the operation, which he would propose formally to
the Security Council on Wednesday.
It was not clear whether Assad would agree to allow more
UN troops and foreign aircraft into the country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, relaying reports
from anti-Assad activists, said at least two people were killed
and dozens wounded by shelling as troops sought to take control
of Basr al-Harir in the southern province of Deraa. Activists
say the town has been a rebel stronghold.
In the northern province of Idlib, government forces fired
mortars and machine guns in two villages, killing three people,
the Observatory said.
It said they also shelled the Khalidiya and Bayada districts
of Homs, where their artillery assault resumed on Saturday, two
days after the truce came into force. Streets of Homs held by
rebels earlier this year now resemble scenes from World War Two.
The reported violence, a day after the Observatory said 23
people were killed, greeted a UN team of six soldiers on their
second working day preparing for the mission.
Assad, who agreed a peace plan with UN-Arab League Kofi
Annan more than three weeks ago, has apparently ignored its
primary demand - that tanks, troops and heavy weapons be
withdrawn from populated areas and all forms of violence cease.
The US envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the
realities on the ground could jeopardize plans to extend the
mission, charged with overseeing an end to 13 months of