Skepticism greets U.N. observer team in Syria

(CBS News) The Syrian cease-fire appears to not be holding. Cell phone video reportedly taken inside the city of Homs Monday showed continued shelling by government forces.

The U.N. has sent a small number of observers to Syria to hold President Bashar Assad to his promise to stop the violence.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that people inside Syria are still wary of the cease-fire.

In the town of Zabadani, about 20 miles from Damascus near the Lebanese border, things looks so serene it's hard to believe the shelling only stopped five days ago. But people are edgy, especially opposition activists who are now on the government's wanted list.

A man who only wanted to identify himself as "Khaled" told CBS News that if he was arrested, "I think they'd kill me."

The man, who did not want to be identified for his safety, took CBS News through back streets to a house with a view. In happier times, the town was a popular summer resort.

Now activists say the winding roads and green valleys hide the government's heavy weapons. Khaled said the area is lined with 20 tanks, which before the cease-fire "were shelling us every day."

Syrian activists: New shelling as observers arrive
Advance team of U.N. observers arrives in Syria
Syrian activists say cease-fire is collapsing

The shells rained down on Zabadani because for a month early this year opposition fighters from the Syrian Free Army, declared victory here.

They actually managed to push the Syrian military out of town. Then Zabadani paid the price: 46 dead and houses and farms left in ruins.

The Syrian Free Army had to retreat, but they haven't surrendered. They're just biding their time.

In an orchard on the outskirts of town, the CBS News crew heard from some locals that they don't believe the U.N. observers mission will succeed.

"It's doomed to fail," a man named Mohammed said. "Thirty observers; that's not nearly enough."

Mohammed said they would need 10,000 observers.

Of course, there aren't 10,000 observers in Syria. As of Monday night, there are a total of six, and there will be only 30 by midweek. Eventually, there may be as many as 300 observers.

At the moment, though, the advance observer team is stuck in technical discussions with the Syrian government, which means they're not getting out into the countryside where the fighting is growing. The worry is by the time they get out into the countryside, there won't be any peace left to observe.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."

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