The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Saturday to send a team of international observers on a peacekeeping mission to Syria in the midst of the country's tenuous cease-fire.
The approved resolution calls on Syria to allow 30 unarmed U.N. observers free access to parts of the Middle Eastern country, which has been steeped in violence since a popular rebellion -- and brutal government crackdown -- began a year ago.
Despite the Syrian government's claim of a cease-fire that has been in place since Thursday, reports of deaths among protesters and rebel fighters continue to stream in. At least 20 people have been killed by Syrian security forces since the cease-fire went into effect, including nine in the city of Homs where the military has begun shelling anew.
U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Susan Rice, the current Security Council president, said recent reports of violence are raising renewed doubts about the sincerity of the Syrian government to end hostilities, CNN reported.
The peacekeeping team will be sent ahead of a larger group of possibly 250 observers, tasked with ensuring that Syrian security forces and rebel fighters are following the peace terms laid out by the cease-fire agreement.
The cease-fire is part of a six-point peace plan put forth by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan that seeks to bring an end to the violence and pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to allow for peaceful protests.
We are under no illusion that we have come to the end of this conflict, said Annan's representative, Ahmad Fawi, CNN reported. This is only the beginning of a long road towards reconciling and towards building the future that Syrians aspire to.
Anti-government protests broke out last March, and although they were initially peaceful, the Assad regime responded with extreme force, ordering the military to violently suppress protesters. The violence has galvanized some discontented Syrians to become rebel fighters. The U.N. estimates the death toll has reached 9,000 since the uprising began.