Syria seeks UN monitors from neutral countries

Syria stressed that while it was committed to UN-backed peace plan, the Western powers wanted it to fail due to their own agenda.

Damascus: Syria has said it was ready to facilitate UN monitors, but stressed that a majority of them should be from "neutral countries" like BRICS, which also includes India.

Syria also stressed that while it was committed to the UN-backed peace plan, the Western powers wanted it to fail due to their own agenda.

"The Syrian government is committed to the success of the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan`s six-point peace plan," Syria`s Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud told a group of Indian journalists visiting Syria.

"We welcome the UN observers from countries like BRICS which look at the situation objectively. Syria is committed to the Annan plan and will facilitate the UN mission," he said.

The leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping of the five emerging economies, met in New Delhi on March 29 and supported a Syria-led transition and underlined that issues should be resolved through dialogue without any foreign interference.

The UN Security Council unanimously approving a resolution in New York Saturday, which seeks to expand the number of UN cease-fire observers in Syria from 30 to 300.

The resolution also calls for an immediate end to the violence by both the government forces and opposition activists.

Syria had agreed to a ceasefire over a week ago, but the truce remains fragile with reports of both regime forces and opposition targeting each other in places like Homs and Hama.

"We are ready to move within the framework of the Annan plan, but it should stick to principles of sovereignty. We oppose any foreign interference," said Mahmoud.

"The UN observers were in Homs today (Saturday). They moved around freely and talked to ordinary people," he said.

A team of international observers visited Homs, the opposition stronghold, and met the governor there. Earlier, they were prevented from visiting Homs for "security reasons", but on Saturday they toured different districts of the city.

Mahmoud accused the Western powers of funding opposition activists whom he described as "armed terrorists". "The Western powers have expressed pessimism. They don`t want the Annan plan to succeed," he said.

The UN resolution empowers Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to decide when to deploy the additional observers, based on the ground realities, including "the consolidation of the ceasefire". Ban had accused Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday of not sticking to the ceasefire and voiced dismay about violence that was claiming more lives.

Damascus has, however, denied reports of escalation in violence and blamed opposition activists for killing innocent civilians.