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Brussels - Apr 15, 2012 - 21:07

Last modified: 15 Apr 2012 18:07

UN chief Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over the Syrian regime's shelling of the central city of Homs and urged the government to do everything to maintain a fragile ceasefire.

"I am very much concerned about what has happened since yesterday and today," Ban said on Sunday after talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo in Brussels.

"(The) Syrian government has been shelling the city of Homs and elsewhere we have seen already some casualties, populations killed," he said as an advance team of UN truce observers were due to arrive in Damascus on Sunday.

"I urge again in the strongest possible terms that this cessation of violence must be kept," the UN secretary general said.

Syrian forces reportedly killed five civilians in shelling of rebel areas and clashes with gunmen on Sunday, testing the shaky UN-backed ceasefire ahead of the arrival of observers.

"While we welcome this cessation of violence at this time I warn that the whole world is watching with sceptical eyes whether this will be able to be sustainable," Ban said

"It is important, absolutely important, that the Syrian government should take all the measures to keep this cessation of violence," he added.

Ban said he would present on Thursday his proposal to enlarge the UN monitoring mission, which will have 30 unarmed military observers at first, to 250 people.

"I hope the Security Council will act on that as soon as possible so that we will swiftly deploy this monitoring team," he said.

[Source: AFP]