U.N. observers tour rebel-held Syria town

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He added that the presence of observers would help create the conditions conducive to launching the much-needed political process and called on the Syrian government and the opposition “to prepare to engage in such a process as a matter of utmost priority.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accused Mr. Assad of violating the truce and said Saturday that “the gross violations of the fundamental rights of the Syrian people must stop at once.” Rebel fighters also have kept up attacks.

SANA said Sunday that an officer was killed and 42 others wounded in a roadside bomb explosion that targeted their bus Sunday in northern Syria. Two other explosives were dismantled on the spot on the Raqqa-Aleppo highway, SANA said.

The U.N. eight-member advance team already has visited the Damascus suburb of Arbeen, the southern province of Daraa and the battered opposition stronghold of Homs. The monitors have not visited Douma yet.

Activists said Homs was relatively calm for the second consecutive day Sunday. Five monitors who toured Homs Saturday encountered unusually calm streets after weeks of shelling, and activists said it was the first quiet day in months. Two observers stayed behind in Homs to keep monitoring the city, after the rest of the team left that evening.

Activist Salim Qabani, based in Homs province, said there was none of the heavy shelling of the previous days. But he said a mortar shell landed in the Jouret al-Shayah district and set a home on fire.

Syria keeps tight restrictions on foreign and local media, and reports of shelling and casualties cannot be independently confirmed.

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