UN aims to triple Syria observer team next week
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UN aims to triple Syria observer team next week

Contingent of up to 300 must be approved by the UN Security Council

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe speaks with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the start of an “ad hoc” meeting on Syria, in Paris, in April. (photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe speaks with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the start of an “ad hoc” meeting on Syria, in Paris, in April. (photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations hopes to have 30 cease-fire monitors in Syria next week and there are already plans for the deployment of up to 300, a spokesman for international envoy Kofi Annan said Friday, as France called on the international community to prepare for the possible failure of the increasingly fragile peace plan.

Seven observers are already on the ground and another two will arrive on Monday, with 21 more expexted by the end of the week, said Ahmad Fawzi.

The preliminary agreement between Syria and the United Nations on the deployment of UN observers says they will have freedom to go anywhere in the country by foot or by car, take pictures, and use technical equipment to monitor compliance with the cease-fire engineered by Annan. But the issue of using helicopters and aircraft remains under discussion.

The larger contingent of up to 300 still needs to be approved by the UN Security Council, Fawzi said.

In France, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities and warned that if Annan’s peace plan “doesn’t function, we have to envisage other methods.”

Juppe said on France’s BFM television that his country would support a US-backed proposal for a UN arms embargo and other tough measures against Syria.

The peace plan is “the last chance before civil war. … We don’t have the right to wait,” he said.

Juppe hosted US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other diplomats in Paris on Thursday to try to work out options for Syria. The UN chief accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of failing to honor the peace plan that went into effect a week ago.

Assad’s government signed the monitor agreement document in Damascus, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Thursday. The UN chief said the situation remains “highly precarious,” citing an escalation of violence including “shelling of civilian areas, grave abuses by government forces and attacks by armed groups.”

The observers will have freedom to install temporary observation posts in cities and towns, freedom to monitor military convoys approaching population centers, freedom to investigate any potential violation, and freedom to access detention centers and medical centers in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian authorities, the agreement says.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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