U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan’s deputy told the Security Council that the swift deployment of more observers to Syria was needed despite continued risks and persistent violence, council diplomats told Reuters.
As many as 30 people have been killed by the fire of Syrian forces on Thursday, Al Arabiya reported citing activists at the Local Coordination Committees.
Jean-Marie Guehenno told the 15-nation council in New York that deploying more unarmed military observers “would have a potential to change the political dynamics on the ground,” a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Another envoy confirmed the remarks, according to Reuters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported clashes in Deraa, south of Damascus, cradle of the 13-month uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and shelling in the flashpoint central province of Homs.
The small advance team of U.N. observers in Syria visited Deraa province on Thursday and met with local residents, according to amateur videos posted online.
Gunfire erupted after their visit, the Observatory said, according to AFP.
One video showed a U.N. vehicle surrounded by a mob in the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh and chanting “freedom, freedom, down with the regime.”
Another video showed the head of the team, Colonel Ahmed Himmiche of Morocco, entering a house where a crowd awaited him.
One man tells the colonel how he was shot and wounded while driving with his brother who was killed.
A woman recounted how her two sons, both farmers, were detained by government forces three months ago with their whereabouts still unknown.
Himmiche asked the crowd whether schools and hospital were open in the region. Residents responded that schools were open but that no one dared seek treatment at a local government-run hospital for fear of staff “finishing them off.”
The latest violence came as authorities in Damascus signed a preliminary accord outlining a protocol for a U.N. mission to monitor the fragile week-old ceasefire.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad signed the deal with a member of a U.N. advance team, the foreign ministry said.
Although the number of casualties has fallen since the truce went into effect, the violence has continued unabated despite assurances by Syrian authorities they would respect the ceasefire.
In a report to be discussed by the Security Council later Thursday, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he wanted 300 unarmed observers sent on a three-month mission to Syria, adding it was “critical” that Assad’s regime adhere to the peace plan.
Ban’s report, obtained by AFP, said that even though Syrian troops have not been withdrawn from cities and violence has escalated since the ceasefire, “an opportunity for progress may now exist, on which we need to build.”