* Russia, China join rest of Security Council in vote
* U.N. chief says Syria must withdraw from urban areas
* Shelling hits districts of Homs city
* "Look, world, what they are doing," videomaker screams
By Louis Charbonneau and Oliver Holmes
UNITED NATIONS/BEIRUT, April 14 Russia and China
joined the rest of the U.N. Security Council on Saturday to
authorise deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers to monitor
Syria's fragile ceasefire as activists reported more deaths in
the country and renewed shelling of Homs.
The resolution by the 15-nation Security Council is the
first it has approved since the anti-government uprising in
Syria began 13 months ago.
Moscow and Beijing twice vetoed council resolutions
condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's assault on
protesters opposed to his rule that has killed thousands of
A spokesman for U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan had
said on Friday that the first group of observers was on stand-by
and ready to fly to Syria as soon as the council approved their
deployment. Annan is planning for an observer force that will
have up to 250 monitors.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement released
after a meeting in Geneva said the Syrian government had the
prime responsibility to stop the violence and withdraw its
forces from urban areas in line with Annan's peace plan.
"The Secretary-General reiterated that it is the government
of Syria which has the primary responsibility to stop the
violence and withdraw its forces," the statement said.
Opposition activists said at least six people were killed in
Syria on Saturday and also reported the first shelling, in the
city of Homs, by forces loyal to Assad, since the U.N.-Arab
League-brokered ceasefire took effect three days ago.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people
were killed during a funeral march in Aleppo, one by shelling in
Homs and a sixth succumbed to wounds inflicted by torture in the
central town of Rastan, straddling the Damascus-Aleppo road.
A video, shot in a destroyed part of what the cameraman says
is the Homs neighbourhood of al-Qarabis, showed two tanks
rushing through the streets to the sound of heavy gunfire and
"Look with your own eyes. Look, world. Watch what they are
doing," the man making the video screams as a tank raises its
The Syrian state news agency SANA said "armed terrorists"
killed five people in ambushes around the country on Saturday,
and kidnapped a parliamentary candidate from the north.
An army colonel also was kidnapped in the central city of
Hama. "Colonel Mohammed Awad's car was intercepted by a
terrorist group and he was kidnapped at gunpoint," SANA said.
The Syrian government repeatedly has denied access to
journalists, making it impossible to verify the reports
NO SIGN DIVISIONS OVERCOME
Despite Saturday's unanimous vote at the Security Council,
there were no signs that the divisions that have prevented it
from taking action on the crisis have been overcome.
Syria's close ally and arms supplier Moscow was satisfied
with the final draft of the resolution, though Russian U.N.
Ambassador Vitaly Churkin made clear that there were limits to
the kind of U.N. action Moscow could support.
"Out of respect for the sovereignty of Syria we have
cautioned against destructive attempts at external interference
or imposing any kind of illusory fixes," he said.
Russia has accused the United States and Europe of tricking
it into using a U.N. mandate to protect civilians in Libya to
enable NATO engage in "regime change." Russia abstained from a
March 2011 vote and allowed a council resolution authorizing
"all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians to pass.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud added that the newfound unity
on the council may not be permanent. "Our consensus is fragile,"
Before agreeing to support what was originally a
U.S.-drafted text, Russia had demanded the U.S. and European
delegations dilute it so that it would not "demand" that Syria
comply with the resolution. The approved resolution uses softer
language so that it "calls upon" Syria to implement it.
Churkin also demanded that the council urge the opposition
as well as the Syrian government to change its behaviour.
The approved resolution has the council "condemning the
widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities,
as well as any human rights abuses by armed groups, recalling
that those responsible shall be held accountable."
It calls on "all parties, including the opposition,
immediately to cease all armed violence in all its forms."
The text also includes a vague warning to Damascus, saying
the council would "assess the implementation of this resolution
and to consider further steps as appropriate."
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari reiterated Damascus's
commitment to Annan's six-point peace plan, which calls for an
end to fighting, withdrawal of troops, dialogue between the
government and opposition and a "political transition" for the
"The time for violence is gone," he said, though he accused
the opposition of "50 violations" of the truce since Thursday.
Annan had asked the council to approve the deployment of an
advance team of monitors as soon as possible.
Western council members welcomed the adoption of the
resolution but had harsh words for Assad's government.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice condemned what she said was
Damascus's "murderous rampage" over the last year, adding that
the sporadic violence that has broken out since Thursday's
ceasefire casts doubt on the government's commitment to peace.
Asked if the Syrian forces' shelling on Saturday of the
battered city of Homs was a violation of the ceasefire, Rice
VIOLENCE IN ALEPPO, HOMS
State news agency SANA and opposition groups traded blame on
Saturday for gunfire in Syria's second city of Aleppo that
activists said killed four and wounded three.
In a video, reportedly filmed in the Hay al-Etha
neighbourhood, the sound of gunfire and an explosion can be
heard as men holding the Syrian revolutionary flag and children
scatter from what appears to be a demonstration.
SANA said: "Armed terrorist groups spread in Hay al-Etha,
opened fire randomly and attacked public and private property."
In another video, dozens of people, some with medical masks
wrapped around their faces, run amid the sound gunshots and two
men drag an injured man along the street.
"We are in a state of war," the camera-bearer screams before
running over to film a young man whose head is dripping with
SANA said its own television building in the same
neighbourhood was attacked by armed groups, but could not
"Terrorist groups on Saturday opened fire randomly in
al-Etha, attacked public and private properties and beleaguered
the TV and Radio headquarters in the city," it said.
Hopes that the truce would put an end to the bullets that
have frightened off peaceful protesters for months were quashed
when forces loyal to Assad shot dead five protesters after
Friday prayers, activists reported.
They said that security forces came out in strength in many
cities to prevent protesters from mounting major rallies against
The United Nations estimates that Assad's forces have killed
more than 9,000 people since the uprising began. Authorities
blame the violence on foreign-backed militants who they say have
killed more than 2,500 soldiers and police.