“I am very much concerned about what has happened since yesterday and today,” Ban said after talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo in Brussels.
“(The) Syrian government has been shelling the city of Homs and elsewhere we have seen already some casualties, populations killed,” he said as the first six members of a UN monitoring mission were due to arrive in Damascus on Sunday.
“I urge again in the strongest possible terms that this cessation of violence must be kept,” the UN secretary general said, adding that the truce monitoring mission will be up and running from Monday.
Syrian forces reportedly killed five civilians in shelling of rebel areas and clashes with gunmen on Sunday, testing the shaky UN-backed ceasefire ahead of the arrival of observers.
“While we welcome this cessation of violence at this time I warn that the whole world is watching with sceptical eyes whether this will be able to be sustainable,” Ban said.
“It is important, absolutely important, that the Syrian government should take all the measures to keep this cessation of violence,” he added.
Ban said he would present by Thursday his proposal to enlarge the UN monitoring mission, which will have 30 unarmed military observers at first, to 250 people.
“I hope the Security Council will act on that as soon as possible so that we will swiftly deploy this monitoring team,” he said.
“Once the monitoring team is on the ground, I hope there will be calm stability and peace without any violence.”
Ban, who meets with top EU officials on Monday, repeated that at least one million people are displaced within Syria and tens of thousands of refugees are in neighbouring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
“These are all very serious challenges which require urgent, urgent action,” he said, recalling that UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos will host a meeting in Geneva next Friday to begin the task of getting aid to Syria’s needy.
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The closure will be in place till Wednesday, December 20, 2023