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One dead, three wounded in separate Damascus attacks Tuesday

A car bomb wounded three early Tuesday near the Old City part of the Syrian capital. Meanwhile, a Syrian agent was found dead in another Damascus neighborhood.

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Activists said 31 people were killed on Monday in shelling and shooting in the central city of Hama, a hub of the anti-Assad revolt, the day after a brief visit by a U.N. team.

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"It began in the morning with tanks and artillery. There were houses burning," a local opposition activist called Mousab told Reuters in neighboring Lebanon.

Another 24 were killed in violence elsewhere on Monday, according to activists said.

VAIN HOPE FOR U.N. MISSION?

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief the Security Council every 15 days about developments in Syria and submit to the Security Council proposals as needed for adjusting the mandate of the observer mission, to be called UNSMIS.

The Homs region has been battered by major violence during the past year and there is little outside belief that the monitoring mission - even when it reaches full size - will bring an end to the conflict.

"I do not expect it to succeed, because the number of observers is very small. Three hundred people cannot do anything," Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki said in an interview published in the al-Hayat regional newspaper.

"In Kosovo there were thousands of observers," he said, referring to the former Serbian province that is a tiny fraction of Syria's size.

Marzouki, who came to power in the aftermath of Tunisia's relatively peaceful pro-democracy uprising a year ago, called on Assad to step down to avoid further loss of life - including his own.

Assad "will go one way or another ... dead or alive," he told al-Hayat.

"The Russians and Chinese and the Iranians must understand that this man is finished and they cannot defend him. They must persuade him to leave power and hand over to his deputy."

Moscow has been critical of other bids to end the violence by groups like the 14-nation "Friends of Syria," saying it could undermine Annan's plan. Russian U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin also described placing sanctions on Syria as counterproductive.

The conflict has crippled Syria's oil- and tourism-driven economy and U.N. officials say it has forced tens of thousands to flee to neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

U.N. aid agencies, like foreign journalists, have been largely barred from Syria but a joint assessment mission carried out last month with Syrian authorities estimated that at least one million people inside the country needed humanitarian aid.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) said on Tuesday it aimed to deliver aid to 500,000 people "in the coming weeks", roughly double the number it expects to reach this month. (Additional reporting by Dominic Evans, Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva.; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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