Syrian activists say violence has killed at least 23 people, as more U.N. observers began deploying to back a cease-fire plan that has failed to end more than a year of unrest.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels killed 12 soldiers on Tuesday, in a battle in the northeastern province of Deir Ezzor. It says one civilian was killed when government troops responded with rockets and machine guns. The Observatory also says a mortar shell killed 10 people in a village in the northwestern province of Idlib.
Casualties could not be independently confirmed.
The team of U.N. monitors in Syria has grown to 30 people, with more expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeated his call Tuesday for all sides in Syria’s 13-month conflict to stop the violence and cooperate with the U.N. observers to implement the April 12 cease-fire agreement. He also condemned a recent series of bombings in the town of Idlib and in the capital, Damascus, calling them “terrorist” attacks.
Also Tuesday, a U.N. special envoy said at least 34 children have been killed in Syria since the start of the April 12 agreement. Radhika Coomaraswamy urged all parties in Syria to refrain from “indiscriminate tactics resulting in the killing and wounding of children.”
The U.N. Security Council has authorized a 300-strong observer mission in Syria, but it is not clear when it will be fully deployed.
The United Nations estimates at least 9,000 people have been killed since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began cracking down on the uprising in March 2011.