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Russia Wants UN Monitors Sent to Syria in Next Few Days

Russia called on the United Nations to send observers to Syria to monitor the cease-fire that took effect today and guard against the risk of “provocations.”

“We’d like this to happen in the next few days,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said today in an interview in Moscow, adding that the UN has all the necessary resources to do so. “We shouldn’t allow a big pause between the cease-fire taking effect and monitors being deployed,” he said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on his ministry’s Twitter Inc. account that the presence of independent observers in Syria is “very important” in case of “provocations.” He said he’d asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to finalize details of the monitoring mission in order to secure approval of the Security Council, the UN’s decision-making body.

Syria’s army ended operations this morning after carrying out “successful missions in combating criminal acts by armed terrorist groups,” the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported, citing a Defense Ministry official it didn’t identify. It said troops will stay on alert “to confront any attack by armed terrorist groups against civilians, law-enforcement members, the armed forces and private and public facilities.”

Fast Action

The Security Council will take fast action to support a request by special envoy Kofi Annan for observers to monitor the cease-fire, according to a Council diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because the members met in closed consultations. The 6 a.m. cease-fire was holding, Annan said in a statement.

The Syrian government is “absolutely” committed to the cease-fire, Jihad Makdissi, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said today in an interview with the BBC’s Radio 4. “We do want monitors to come as soon as possible to monitor any possible violations.”

Russia has a positive stance on the Syrian government’s response to the cease-fire and is seeking a similar approach from the country’s opposition, according to Gatilov.

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