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Kofi Annan urges fast deployment of UN monitors to Syria

DAMASCUS--A handful of U.N. observers resumed their tour of Syrian hot spots on Wednesday as envoy Kofi Annan urged the fast deployment of the full, 300-strong mission and voiced alarm about persistent violence.

Nine civilians were reportedly killed across country, taking to nearly 300 the number of people who have died since a tenuous ceasefire went into effect on April 12.

Among them were four people whose bus was raked with gunfire by security forces at a checkpoint near Khan Sheikhun, a town in the restive northwestern province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based watchdog said two civilians were also killed by regime forces in the Harasta suburb of Damascus, while another was killed by sniper fire in Douma, a northeastern suburb of the capital.

One child died after being shot in a village in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, according to the Observatory.

And regime forces also reportedly shot dead one citizen in the town of Rastan, in the central province of Homs.

Annan branded the bloodshed “unacceptable” as he and world powers called for the speedy deployment of the 300 observers, but a top U.N. official said it would take at least a month to get the first 100 in place.

Addressing the U.N. Security Council via teleconference, the U.N.-Arab League envoy said he was “concerned” about the violence surging after observers visit individual cities.

The former U.N. chief said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has still not fulfilled a promise to end violence and said the situation was “bleak” and “unacceptable.”

Annan said he was “particularly alarmed” at reports that government forces had entered the city of Hama after a visit by U.N. monitors and killed “a significant” number of people.

“If confirmed this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible,” he told the council.

The Damascus-based Syrian League for Human Rights said nine activists were “summarily executed” by government forces in Hama on Monday, a day after they met U.N. observers in the central city.

More than 30 people were also killed in a government assault on Hama's Arbaeen neighborhood on Monday, monitors have said, prompting anger and criticism by activists who questioned the use of the U.N. observer mission given the unending bloodshed.

Neeraj Singh, spokesman for an advance team of U.N. monitors who began arriving in the country on April 15 and are set to number 30 in the coming days, said the observers were conducting visits in various regions on a daily basis.

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A handout image released by the Syrian opposition Shaam News Network shows on Wednesday, April 25, a boy holding a poster during an anti-regime demonstration in Kfar Nubul. A handful of U.N. observers resumed their tour of Syrian hot spots on Wednesday as envoy Kofi Annan urged the fast deployment of the full, 300-strong mission and voiced alarm about persistent violence.(AFP)



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