UK & World News
UN Passes Resolution On Syria Monitors
The UN Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution allowing a 300-strong ceasefire monitoring mission in Syria, despite the strong doubts of many Western nations.
Under UN resolution 2043, the unarmed military observers will be sent if UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decides it is safe for them to go.
Envoys from several western nations highlighted the risks of sending the monitors as violence has not stopped amid a ceasefire.
Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the vote decision and implementation of the UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan.
"This resolution increases the pressure on the Syrian regime to begin a transition to a democratic, plural political system. I welcome the fact that the council reaffirmed its full support for this goal," Mr Hague said.
"However, I remain extremely concerned that the Syrian regime is still failing to meet its commitments, and that there has been further violence and the use of heavy weapons since 12 April when a ceasefire should have come into effect."
He added: "The Syrian regime must stop immediately troop movements towards population centres, end the use of heavy weapons in civilian areas, and withdraw the military to their barracks."
Earlier, UN inspectors visited the city of Homs ahead of the security council vote, where fighting stopped before their arrival in the third city.
They were met the governor and shown around four neighbourhoods including the battered Baba Amr area.
Regime forces shelled the neighbourhood for a month, leaving hundreds dead according to monitors, before retaking it from rebels on March 1. Two western journalists were among those killed.
The seven-strong advance UN team had previously been to the southern province of Daraa and toured some of the suburbs of the capital Damascus.
Their trip to Homs was regarded as particularly important as the city has been among the hardest hit by the violence that has engulfed Syria in the past year.
According to the UN it has left more than 9,000 people dead, while tens of thousands have fled to neighbouring Turkey.
Earlier the Syrian state news agency said terrorists had blown up a section of an oil pipeline in the east of the country.
There have also been reports of a woman being shot dead by a sniper in town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border and of a big explosion at a military base in the Mazzeh district of Damascus.
The pipeline attack came after the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) renewed its call for the UN to intervene militarily in the country.
"We call anew on the UN Security Council to act with all urgency to intervene militarily to bring an end to the crimes committed by the bloody regime against the unarmed Syrian people," the SNC said in a statement.
The group claims government forces entered the Bayyada neighbourhood of Homs and attacked local residents.
It said "streets and houses were full of the bodies of martyrs and the destruction terrifying".
Monitors say more than 200 people have been killed in the country since the UN-brokered ceasefire - to which all sides agreed - came into effect on April 12.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has expressed concern about the fate of a cardiologist, Dr Mahmud al-Rifai, who was arrested in Damascus on February 16 for having treated injured protesters. They believe he may have been tortured.
The London-based group raised similar fears about another doctor, Mohammed al-Ammar, who was detained on March 19 in the southern city of Daraa, the cradle of the uprising.