The UN says it will take a month to get the full 300-member observer mission on the ground, due to logistical difficulties. The delay could scuttle UN envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.
The United Nations Security Council agreed on Saturday to send up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor compliance with a cease-fire that was supposed to come into effect on April 12. The cease-fire and the observer mission is part of a six-point plan pushed by Kofi Annan, the UN's envoy to Syria. But only 15 monitors are presently in country and it could take a month before the full number has arrived.
The Syrian opposition is pitting hopes on the observer mission to stem the violence that the UN says has killed more than 9,000 since the uprising began in March 2011.
With observers on the ground, the opposition could resume the massive anti-regime demonstrations that marked the beginning of the effort to oust President Bashar al-Assad before the emergence of armed opposition groups and a slide toward a full-blown insurgency.
But the ongoing violence, which claimed more than 20 lives yesterday, according to opposition activists, and the amount of time required before the observer mission is fully effective could scuttle the Annan plan prematurely.
"I can't understand why it is taking them so long to send just 300 observers. More people are dying every day they delay," says Ahmad, a Syrian opposition activist living in hiding in north Lebanon.
The UN says it is proceeding as fast as it can, and any delay is due to logistical difficulties.