Britain hails UN Syria monitors
London - Britain welcomed Saturday's unanimous UN Security Council resolution to send military monitors to Syria, calling it a "vital step in supporting the fragile ceasefire".
The Council passed its first resolution on the Syria crisis, allowing an advance party of unarmed monitors to go to the country on the brink of civil war.
Welcoming the unanimous endorsement, Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement: "This mission is a vital step in supporting the fragile ceasefire in Syria.
"It is essential that it begins its work urgently and without impediment. I urge all parties to maintain the ceasefire to allow the monitoring mission to deploy and complete its task.
"The Syrian government must ensure that the monitoring team has freedom of movement and access, and it must not obstruct communication between the monitors and headquarters."
UN Resolution 2042 approved the first 30 unarmed military monitors, who UN officials said could leave for Damascus within hours. A new resolution with a full mandate will be required for a monitoring mission of more than 200 observers.
Saturday's resolution also calls upon the Syrian government to "implement visibly" all commitments under special envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan - including the withdrawal of all troops and heavy guns from Syrian cities.
"It is also essential that there are guarantees from the parties on security, without prejudice to the mission's freedom of movement," Hague said.
"These conditions are set out in today's UNSC resolution, and we will hold the Syrian regime to it and to Kofi Annan's six-point plan.
"I again urge the Syrian regime to comply with Kofi Annan's plan in full. It must stop troop movements towards population centres; end the use of heavy weapons in civilian areas; and withdraw the military to their barracks."
He said failure to act would result in further international pressure on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Britain is one of the five permanent, veto-holding members of the UNSC.