Security Council approves Syria observers

Members of the United Nations Security Council gather Saturday, April 14, 2012, at U.N. headquarters in New York City before a scheduled vote on a resolution authorizing the deployment of the first wave of U.N. military observers to monitor a cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition fighters.
AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Last Updated 2:57 p.m. ET

(CBS News) UNITED NATIONS - For the first time since the Syrian conflict began more than a year ago, the U.N. Security Council on Saturday united behind a legally-binding resolution calling for violence to end immediately and peace talks to begin.

The Council unanimously approved deployment of a first wave of cease-fire observers to Syria. The resolution, which authorizes an advance team of unarmed observers, passed 15-0, reports CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk.

The first wave of U.N. military observers to monitor a fragile cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition fighters is expected to arrive within 2-3 days.

The resolution also called for "the urgent, comprehensive, and immediate implementation" of international envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan.

"The observer team that the Council authorized is vital to the Kofi Annan peace plan, because it will be an independent source to monitor violations and allow the U.S. and Western nations to return to the U.N. for further steps if the Syrian government does not comply with the plan," CBS Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk reported from the U.N. Saturday.

"Whether or not the Syrian government is willing to tolerate peaceful protests and allow monitors and journalists unhindered access is still not clear, and there is reason to be skeptical," Falk added.

"But the Council came together to support Annan's efforts to bring peace to the year-long brutal conflict in Syria in which 9,000 people have died."

Russia and China vetoed two previous resolutions that would have condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad's government for its bloody crackdown on protesters, calling them unbalanced because they demanded that the government stop attacks, but not the opposition. Russia, Syria's most powerful ally, accused Western nations of seeking regime change.

The cease-fire, which formally took effect Thursday, is at the center of Annan's peace plan, which is aimed at ending more than a year of bloodshed that has killed over 9,000 people, according to the United Nations, and to launch inclusive Syrian-led talks on the country's political future.

But scattered violence continued on Saturday, sparking concern among council members.

"We hope that in the immediate term, this will open the way to a cessation of brutal violence, and we hope that we'll be able to say to the Syrian people that the time of indiscriminate violence is finally behind it," said France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud.

Still, Saturday's attacks on the key city of Homs "lead to some doubts about the reality of the commitment of the Syrian regime," Araud said.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice called the government attacks in Homs a violation of the cease-fire.

The resolution calls on both sides to immediately "cease all armed violence in all its forms" and condemns "the widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities, as well as any human rights abuses by armed groups."

Annan told the council Thursday that Syria failed to keep a commitment to pull troops and heavy weapons out of cities and towns, and the resolution calls on Assad's government to "visibly" implement this pledge.