Wednesday, April 18, 2012

UN FAIL: Gunfire and diplomatic wrangling over Syria monitoring mission

BEIRUT/PARIS (Reuters) - Gunfire and protests near a team of U.N. observers in Syria and diplomatic wrangling over the scope of their mission underlined the precarious prospects for a week-old truce which has so far failed to halt a year of bloodshed.
Then do they keep calling it a truce?
Shooting erupted on Wednesday close to an advance party of military personnel from the United Nations who had been swarmed by protesters denouncing President Bashar al-Assad in the town of Erbin, on the northeastern outskirts of the capital Damascus.

There were no reports of casualties. But scenes of monitors' vehicles stuck in a crowd and men running away while gunfire rattled in the air were an ominous echo of an earlier monitoring mission, by the Arab League, which collapsed in January.
In other words, déjà vu.
The United States said the incident - and sustained shelling by the Syrian army of the city of Homs - raised questions about whether observers could actually monitor any truce and pledged to step up pressure on Assad at a meeting in Paris on Thursday.

Questions, eh?