Middle East

Syria ceasefire: UN prepares for monitoring mission

The UN is preparing to send monitors to Syria to observe the implementation of a ceasefire after the first day passed without major violations.

A draft UN resolution calls for the deployment of 30 unarmed monitors and demands Syria's full compliance with a six-point peace plan.

Syria says it will accept UN monitors.

Security Council ambassadors - including Russia and China, who have vetoed previous resolutions - all backed the idea of observers.

The draft resolution also calls on Syria to withdraw its forces from cities, as it was supposed to do on Tuesday under the peace plan.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who brokered the ceasefire as part of the six-point plan, said Syria had not fully complied with the deal.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the ceasefire was important but was just a first step.

Humanitarian groups must have full access, she said, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would "have to go".

Mrs Clinton said the US supported the deployment of an advance team immediately.

But she said the group, as well as any full monitoring mission, "will need complete freedom of movement, unimpeded communications, and access throughout the country and to all Syrians, as well as firm security guarantees from all parties."

The Syrian opposition has called for major demonstrations on Friday.

'Obligations'

The ceasefire, the central element in Mr Annan's plan, formally came into effect at 06:00 (03:00 GMT) on Thursday morning.

Both sides reported violations. The opposition said three people were killed in the cities of Idlib and Hama, while the Syrian government said one person died after a roadside bomb exploded in Aleppo.

But as the day went on, there were no reports of major attacks by either side.

Syria has yet to complete its withdrawal of troops and heavy weaponry from cities, which it was supposed to have done by Tuesday.

"All parties have obligations to implement fully the six-point plan. This includes both the military provisions of the plan and the commitment to move to a political process," Mr Annan told the UN Security Council.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the ceasefire but warned that the Syrian authorities had repeatedly broken their promises.

"They have in the days before the announcement of this ceasefire engaged in the killing of many hundreds of people in Syria," he said.

And Turkey, which has received about 24,000 refugees from the conflict, said Syria was not abiding by the Annan plan.

"There's a six-point plan put forward by Annan... Is it being implemented? I'm not of the opinion it is being implemented," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara.

The UN estimates about 9,000 people have died since anti-government protests began in March 2011. In February, the Syrian government put the death toll at 3,838 - 2,493 civilians and 1,345 security forces personnel.