In a photo from the opposition Shaam News Network, smoke rises from burning… (Shaam News Network )
BEIRUT — As violence continues to rage across Syria, the United Nations monitoring mission faced mounting criticism and pressure Wednesday.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe raised the prospect of outside military force if President Bashar Assad doesn't fully implement a U.N.-backed peace plan. Juppe said France might push for a Security Council resolution that can be militarily enforced. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also has mentioned the possibility of such action.
A day after U.N. Undersecretary-General Herve Ladsous said 100 monitors would be in Syria within a month, Juppe demanded that the 300 authorized observers arrive in the next 15 days. Fewer than half of the 30 members of the advance team have arrived in the country.
Syrian antigovernment activists have become increasingly disillusioned with the U.N. mission, which was meant to monitor a cease-fire and implementation of the peace plan but has not brought an end to violence. They are further frustrated with what they see as a slow deployment of monitors.
"I'm very disappointed, and people here are disappointed. It will be too late. Maybe 1,000 or 2,000 will be dead by then," said Mousab Hamadi, an activist in the city of Hama. "How can the world stand by and watch tens being killed every day?"
Some have begun raising concerns that the presence of monitors has actually made the situation worse in cases where government forces attack towns in the wake of their visits and target those who have spoken to observers.
Shelling of the Damascus suburb of Duma continued Wednesday, two days after observers were greeted in the streets with a large antigovernment demonstration.
At least 18 people were reported killed nationwide Wednesday, including three in the northwestern province of Idlib when security forces opened fire on a bus traveling along the main highway between the cities of Aleppo and Damascus.
"They are not achieving anything, they are really failures," said an activist in Dael, a town in the southern province of Dara. "The Syrian people is dying in front of the observers. Every city that the observers visit gets a massacre."
Sandels is a special correspondent.