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Head of UN observers optimistic despite unrelenting violence

05-04-2012 08:52 BJT Special Report:Crisis in Syria |

DAMASCUS, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Head of the UN observer mission to Syria Maj. Gen. Robert Mood expressed optimism Thursday that his team has the potential to break the circle of violence in the country, despite the fact that there is no sign showing the armed conflicts are going down.

Speaking to reporters during his tours in the central provinces of Homs and Hama on Thursday, Mood said his team has a chance to break the cycle of violence in Syria, stressing that the presence of monitors in Syria has a "calming effect."

The advance team of UN observers arrived in Syria two weeks ago to monitor the ceasefire that went into effect on April 12. However, despite their presence, violence has not abated effectively with daily reports of killings, kidnappings and bombings.

The observers have been dispatched to the hotspots across Syria in central Hama, Homs, northern Idlib, and southern Daraa provinces.

Meanwhile, Mood condemned the recent fatal bombings that struck Syria over the weekend and claimed the lives of two dozen of people, stressing that the priority now is halting the violence from both sides.

Mood also stressed that the Syrian government is not hindering the UN mission in Syria and it is allowing the observers to go anywhere they want. "We have moved where we wanted to move and we haven't experienced any hampering," he said.

He said that 50 observers are in Syria now, with 31 of them deployed in different areas. He added that the number will be doubled within the next few days and would reach 300 within a few weeks.

He urged all parties to work together and halt violence, adding that the team has seen more commitment from the Syrian government to the ceasefire plan.

The ceasefire is part of the six-point proposal put forward by UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for all sides to halt violence in order to pave the way for a political settlement to the 13-month-old unrest in Syria.

"What my observers have seen is that, in specific locations, we have seen more commitment on the ground by the government... We are seeing positive signs on the ground," Mood said.

"I believe that I have seen some positive actions on the ground confirming that the commitment is becoming stronger," he said, adding that "since I have arrived, ... we have seen less shelling. "

He called on all parties to stop the violence, adding that " anyone who believes that violence is the solution, is simply not right... violence produces more violence."

He said the cessation of violence is now the "most urgent one," to be followed by the implementation of the UN envoy's six-point plan.

"Our focus will be on engaging all parties in a combined effort to effectively address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people."

As the efforts are still being exerted to find a safe exit for the crisis, violence continued Thursday in several Syrian cities, mainly in the northern province of Aleppo.

In the early hours of Thursday, some students staged anti- government protests at the University of Aleppo and clashed with security agents. The incident led to the killing of four students and the arrest of tens of others, activists' network Local Coordination Committees said.

After the chaos, the university announced the suspension of all classes till May 13, according to its official website. Security forces have been heavily deployed at the university.

Meanwhile, opposition activists said that university students in eastern and southern Syria also staged anti-government protests Thursday in a show of solidarity with their fellow students at the University of Aleppo.

The demonstrators rallied at the universities in eastern Deir al-Zour and southern Daraa province, according to activists report, which cannot be independently verified.

Syria's mainstream media on Thursday reported Bassel Raya, a former basketball player, died from his wounds that he sustained last week from gunshot near Damascus.

Also on Thursday, An armed group attacked a building that houses a number of Russian experts along with their families in al- Tijara neighborhood in Damascus, reports and witnesses said, causing no injuries to the experts nor their families.

Armed attacks have intensified lately in Damascus, as the opposition seems determined to move the battleground to the capital in order to destabilize the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad, who still enjoys considerable support in major Syrian cities, including Damascus.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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