We turn our attention now to Syria. United Nations observers are preparing to travel to Syria this week to start monitoring the fragile cease-fire between government forces and rebel fighters. The U.N. Security Council yesterday approved the deployment of a 30-member team. The monitors will have their work cut out for them. As NPR's Grant Clark reports from Beirut, military bombardment is reportedly continuing, despite an agreed truce.
The early word from Syria is that "flashpoints of the 13-month uprising against President Bashar Assad were quiet Thursday ... suggesting a U.N.-brokered truce was starting to take hold and the regime was keeping a pledge to halt its assault on opposition strongholds," The Associated Press reports.
After months of relentless shelling and gunfire, activists in Syria reported a quieter daybreak Thursday, as a ceasefire arranged by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan appeared to be largely holding.
Opposition figures said rebel fighters inside Syria would abide by the truce as long as the Syrian military does, while the government says its forces will return fire if attacked. Annan is hoping to progress from the cease-fire to getting humanitarian assistance into the country, and eventually to political negotiations.
As al-Jazeera and other news outlets report being told by activists that Syrian government forces are shelling the city of Homs and attacking and arresting opponents of President Bashar Assad in other places, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan continues to press for a true ceasefire to take effect on Thursday.