DAMASCUS: International peace envoy Kofi Annan has called for the rapid deployment of 300 ceasefire monitors in Syria, branding violence levels “unacceptable” 12 days into a promised truce.
UN Security Council powers called on the United Nations to speed up the deployment of monitors, but a top UN official said it will take at least one month to get the first 100 in place.
Ban’s comments in New York on Tuesday came a day after nearly 60 people were killed across the country in violence that continued on Tuesday with a car bomb in the Marjeh district of Damascus that injured three.
Syrian state television blamed “terrorists”, the government term for rebels, for the blast.
It came as UN observers returned to the city of Hama’s Arbaeen neighbourhood, which activists said suffered a “massacre” on Monday at the hands of regime troops.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 31 civilians were killed in the flashpoint central city, out of a total of 59 people including five soldiers killed in violence nationwide.
UN-Arab League envoy Annan said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has still not fulfilled a promise to end violence and that the situation was “bleak” and “unacceptable”.
The special envoy said he was “particularly alarmed” at reports that government forces had entered Hama after a visit by UN monitors and killed “a significant” number of people. “If confirmed this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible,” he told the Security Council.
The Syrian League for Human Rights said that among those killed in Hama on Monday were nine activists who were “summarily executed” by government forces a day after they met UN observers in the city.
Video footage posted online by activists showed a street in Hama’s Arbaeen neighborhood with large pools of blood and women waeeping.
The council was told there are now 11 UN observers in place and the 30-strong advance party of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) is expected to be on the ground by the end of the week.
But UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said it would take a month to get the first 100 of the 300-member full force into Syria. “All council members underscored the need for more rapid deployment of observers,” US ambassador Susan Rice told reporters.