Syria shells suburb of Damascus as UN expands monitoring
The UN Security Council voted Saturday to expand the number of observers in Syria from 30 to 300, but fighting continues.
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The Observatory also reported that security forces killed three people in the northern province of Idlib and one person in the village of Hteita outside Damascus when troops opened fire from a checkpoint.Skip to next paragraph
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It was not immediately clear what prompted the attack on Douma. Saeed said loud explosions that shook the city early Sunday caused panic among residents, some of whom used mosque loudspeakers to urge people to take cover in basements and in lower floors of apartment buildings.
UN expands mission
The Security Council approved a resolution Saturday expanding the UN observer mission from 30 to 300 members, initially for 90 days. The expanded force is meant to shore up the cease-fire that officially took effect 10 days ago, but has failed to halt the violence that the UN says has killed more than 9,000 people since March 2011.
Annan on Sunday welcomed the vote, calling it a "pivotal moment" in the process of stabilizing the country and urged all Syrians to uphold the cease-fire.
"The government in particular must desist from the use of heavy weapons and ... withdraw such weapons and armed units from population centers," he said.
He added that the presence of observers would help create the conditions conducive to launching the much-needed political process and called on the Syrian government and the opposition "to prepare to engage in such a process as a matter of utmost priority."
Ban Ki-moon: Violations must stop
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has accused Assad of violating the truce, and said Saturday that "the gross violations of the fundamental rights of the Syrian people must stop at once." Rebel fighters have also kept up attacks.
The official SANA news agency said Sunday that an officer was killed and 42 others wounded in a roadside bomb explosion that targeted their bus Sunday in northern Syria. Two other explosives were dismantled on the spot on the Raqqa-Aleppo highway, SANA said.
The UN eight-member advance team has already visited the Damascus suburb of Arbeen, the southern province of Daraa, and the battered opposition stronghold of Homs. The monitors have not visited Douma yet.
Activists said Homs was relatively calm for the second consecutive day Sunday. Five monitors who toured Homs Saturday encountered unusually calm streets after weeks of shelling, and activists said it was the first quiet day in months. Two observers stayed behind in Homs to keep monitoring the city, after the rest of the team left that evening.
Activist Salim Qabani, based in Homs province, said there was none of the heavy shelling of the previous days. But he said a mortar shell landed in the Jouret al-Shayah district that set a home on fire.
Syria keeps tight restrictions on foreign and local media and reports of shelling and casualties cannot be independently confirmed.
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