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“Most often this occurs because of provocative actions from the armed opposition, which often force the Syrian security forces to open fire in response,” he said. Still, he added, the level of violence in the country has declined considerably since the observers arrived.

“All of this allows us to claim that the situation in Syria is starting to improve slightly, although this is a very fragile trend,” he added.

Bassma Kodmani, a spokeswoman for the opposition Syrian National Council, called Thursday for a unified Arab stand against what she said was Damascus’ failure to honor terms of Mr. Annan’s peace plan. She said the council wanted the Arab League to “open the door” to a U.N. Security Council resolution that would create safe havens in Syria and allow international relief agencies to operate there freely.

Ms. Kodmani spoke to reporters in Cairo ahead of a meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled for later Thursday in the Egyptian capital.

Ms. Kodmani said she told Arab League chief Nabil Elarabi that Arab foreign ministers must “rise above their differences” and send a strong message to the Syrian regime to halt violence against civilians immediately.

Arab countries are divided on their response to the Syrian crisis, with Gulf countries led by Qatar and Saudi Arabia in favor of arming the opposition and others like Egypt, Iraq and Sudan preferring a diplomatic solution.

For now, the international community remains united in support of Mr. Annan’s plan, which calls for a cease-fire, to be followed by talks between the regime and the opposition on a political solution to the conflict that the United Nations says has killed more than 9,000 people.

That plan, however, has been troubled from the start. Syria has failed to enact key parts of the plan, such as withdrawing its forces from cities, and its troops have attacked opposition areas, killing scores of civilians since the truce was to begin on April 12. Rebel fighters, too, have attacked military checkpoints and convoys.

Associated Press writers Karin Laub in Beirut and Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed to this report.