Security Council OKs 300 observers to Syria

Last Updated 12:24 p.m. ET

(CBS/AP) UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved the deployment of additional U.N. observers to Syria to monitor the cease-fire, and demanded an immediate halt to the violence that has been escalating since the government and opposition agreed to end hostilities over a week ago.

The Security Council resolution expands the number of U.N. cease-fire observers in Syria from 30 to 300.

The resolution gives Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon authority to decide when to deploy the additional observers, based on developments on the ground including "the consolidation of the cease-fire." Ban accused Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday of failing to honor the cease-fire, expressing dismay that increased violence is claiming more lives.

CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk says the Security Council is trying its best to bolster diplomatic efforts by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan to support the fragile ceasefire, "in order to establish the basis for a transition to a democratic government that includes the opposition, and to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to the wounded and displaced in Syria, despite violations of the truce by the Assad regime."

The vote comes as a group of U.N. observers toured a rebel-held neighborhood in the central Syrian city of Homs.

A video aired on Al-Jazeera television shows three U.N. observers, wearing blue flak jackets and helmets, walking in the middle of dozens of people in a street in the Jouret el-Shayah neighborhood.

Bystanders chanted, "The people want military intervention."

Video posted on YouTube showed Syrians in Homs pleading, in English, for U.N. observers to remain in the city. Click on video player below to watch.

An advance team of seven U.N. monitors has been in the country for about a week to assess compliance with an internationally brokered cease-fire.

It was the observers' first visit to Homs, which has endured daily shelling since shortly after the cease-fire went into effect on April 12.

Clashes and government shelling stopped in Homs Saturday before and during the visit of the observers.

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The preliminary agreement between Syria and the United Nations on the deployment of U.N. observers says they will have freedom to go anywhere in the country by foot or by car, take pictures, and use technical equipment to monitor compliance with the cease-fire engineered by Annan.

The observers, who report to Annan daily, will have freedom to install temporary observation posts in cities and towns, to monitor military convoys approaching population centers, to investigate any potential violation, and to access detention centers and medical centers in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian authorities, the agreement says.

Video posted on YouTube showed U.N. observers taking shelter from gunfire in the Khalidiyah neighborhood of Homs. Click on video player below to watch.

Today's resolution merged rival Russian and European texts and dropped a European threat of non-military sanctions against Syria if it fails to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities. Instead, it uses language from the resolution adopted last Saturday authorizing deployment of the 30-strong advance team of observers which expresses the council's intention to assess implementation of the new resolution "and to consider further steps."

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council after Saturday's vote that the resolution is "of fundamental importance to push forward the peace process in Syria" and to support the six-point peace plan negotiated by international envoy Kofi Annan.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the expanded observer mission and Annan's proposal "represents the last opportunity to secure a solution to the crisis in Syria."

"It is an unprecedented step to deploy unarmed U.N. personnel into such a dangerous environment," Lyall Grant said. "It is fraught with risk. The mission will fail in its task if the regime continues to violate its commitments and obstructs the work of the mission."

The resolution establishes a United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria, to be known as UNSMIS, "comprising an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers as well as an appropriate civilian component" for an initial period of 90 days.

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