Syria: UN observer mission criticized as 'slow' while Damascus suburb shelling resumes (VIDEO)


UN observer Zhang Pu from China leaves a hotel in Damascus to patrol flashpoint areas in Syria on April 25, 2012. Two new UN observers arrived in Syria on April 24, to join the 11-member team which has been operating on ground in the unrest-stricken country.


Louai Beshara

BEIRUT, Lebanon — An announcement from the United Nations that estimated it would take up to one month for the first 100 of an approved 300 international observers to arrive in Syria was met by condemnation by activists, Reuters reported

"It takes them a month to arrive? Are they coming on horses?" a Homs resident asked Reuters' correspondent. 

Only 15 monitors, part of an advance team that helped secure an agreement with the Syrian government on the freedom of movement the monitors would enjoy, are currently in country. 

Meanwhile, activists told CNN that regime forces cracked down on areas just after the observers departed. Kofi Annan said, "I am particularly alarmed by reports that government troops entered Hama yesterday after observers departed, firing automatic weapons and killing a significant number of people," which GlobalPost reported yesterday. 

More from GlobalPost: Kofi Annan condemns Syria as violence resumes

On Wednesday Syrian government forces resumed shelling of the neighborhood of Douma, outside Damascus, "despite" monitor visits, according to the Associated Press. "Activists say these visits deter attacks in some cases, but in others appear to bring on retaliation by government forces after the observers leave."

The LA Times wrote, that Annan's spokesman, Ahmed Fawzi, said Tuesday,  "We have credible reports that … these people who approach the observers may be approached by security forces or Syrian army and harassed or arrested or even worse, perhaps killed."

Below is a video that activists say shows a Syrian woman speaking to observers in Hama.