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Head of UN mission finally tours Syria

The head of the United Nations mission to Syria finally arrived in the country last night promising it would "rapidly" reach its planned strength of 300 monitors but accepting they could not solve "all problems in and of themselves".

Major General Robert Mood, an experienced Norwegian peacekeeper, said it was up to the Assad regime and rebel forces to stop the fighting.

"Thirty unarmed observers, 300 unarmed observers, even 1,000 unarmed observers cannot solve all the problems. I call on everyone to help us and co-operate with us in this very challenging task ahead," he said.

Attacks

There has been some sign that the presence of the 16 monitors who have arrived so far has made a difference. There have been fewer reports of attacks in the central city of Homs, the epicentre of the uprising, since two monitors took up permanent positions there last week.

They toured Khalidiyah yesterday, while activists posted videos online of themselves using the lull to remove bodies from the streets.

The overall level of violence throughout the country has fallen, although there are still regular reports of clashes. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported five deaths yesterday.

In parts of the country, including central Damascus, there is little sign of a military presence. But even in the capital, soldiers said that there were regular shootouts in the more rebellious districts like Harasta and Douma at night. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent