UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that he held the Syrian government responsible for guaranteeing UN observers full freedom of movement to monitor the country's tenuous ceasefire.
Even though the overall level of violence across Syria has dropped significantly since the truce took effect on Thursday, the government's shelling of Homs over the weekend raised fresh doubts about President Bashar Assad's commitment to special envoy Kofi Annan's plan to end 13 months of violence and launch talks on the country's political future.
An advance team of six observers arrived in Damascus on Sunday evening and quickly set about negotiating the mission's ground rules with Syrian authorities.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Mr Ban called on Mr Assad to ensure the observers are not impeded in any way in their work.
"It is the Syrian government's responsibility to guarantee freedom of access, freedom of movement within the country," he said.
"They should be allowed to freely move to any places where they will be able to observe this cessation of violence."
He called the ceasefire "very fragile," but said it was essential that it hold so that an "inclusive political dialogue can continue," and that insurgents "should also fully co-operate."
The UN plans to increase the advance team to 30 people, all of them unarmed, Mr Ban said, adding that the Security Council is expected to authorise a formal monitoring team of about 250 people later this week.
The advance team led by Moroccan Colonel Ahmed Himmiche met Syrian Foreign Ministry officials on Monday to discuss ground rules, including what freedom of movement the observers would have.
A spokesman for Mr Annan said in a statement issued in Geneva on Monday that the mission "will start with setting up operating headquarters, and reaching out to the Syrian government and the opposition forces so that both sides fully understand the role of the UN observers."
"We will start our mission as soon as possible and we hope it will be a success," Mr Himmiche said yesterday morning as he left a Damascus hotel along with his team.
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