DAMASCUS, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian government and the United Nations on Thursday signed an agreement on the rules governing the UN observer mission to monitor an internationally backed ceasefire, as the violence continued in several Syrian cities.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, and Guha Abhijit, the deputy military adviser of the UN peacekeeping department, signed the preliminary agreement in Damascus.
"This agreement outlines the functions of the observers as they fulfill their mandate in Syria and the tasks and responsibilities of the Syrian government in this regard," said Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman of international envoy Kofi Annan, in a statement released Thursday.
The agreement is to provide a basis for a protocol governing the advance team of observers and upon its deployment, the UN Supervision Mechanism (UNSM) to monitor and support a cessation of armed violence in all forms by all parties and the implementation of the UN-Arab League joint special envoy Annan's six-point plan, the statement said.
The Syrian government agreed on Annan's six-point plan calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from populated areas, a daily halt of fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment of the wounded, and talks between the government and opposition. Damascus, however, reserved the right to repulse any attack or aggression.
Fawzi said that the Office of the Joint Special Envoy is also having similar discussions with representatives of the opposition on the tasks and responsibilities of the armed opposition groups.
He reiterated that an effective observer team on the ground is vital if the life of ordinary Syrian families is to slowly return to normal.
Meanwhile, Syria's foreign ministry said in a statement following the signing ceremony that the agreement adds to the Syrian efforts to make UN special envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan a success while respecting Syria's sovereignty.
The statement said the agreement also came in light of respecting the international laws that regulate such kinds of international missions.
The advance team of UN observers arrived in Damascus Sunday night and has toured several Syrian areas so far.
Their arrival came a day after the UN Security Council unanimously approved the observer mission. The advance team will be followed by other batches of observers and the total number of monitors may eventually reach 250.
Earlier, head of the team, Moroccan Colonel Ahmad Himmiche called on all sides to cooperate with the observers in order to fulfill the UN mission.
"We try to accomplish our mission which was assigned by the UN in light of resolution 2048 completely in connection with the Syrian security forces and other sides," he told reporters.
An opposition figure deemed the agreement as "an important step, " stressing that it would serve Annan's plan to end the 13-month- old unrest.
Rajaa Naser, who is a member in the oppositional National Coordination Body, said the agreement should be a prelude to a full and conclusive cooperation from the Syrian government side.
He expressed hope that there would be a full cooperation from all sides to make this political endeavor a success.
As Syria appeared to show cooperation with the UN, top Western and Arab diplomats calling themselves "Friends of Syria" met Thursday in Paris, during which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a new UN resolution to impose an arms embargo and other stronger measures against Syria if it fails to abide by UN-brokered cease-fire.
For his side, France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the Friends of Syria group believes the Annan plan is the "last chance " for Syria to avoid civil war.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that the situation in Syria "remains highly precarious," and he looks forward to an early action by the UN Security Council on his proposed expansion of the UN ceasefire observation mission in the Middle East country.
"Despite the government's agreement to cease all violence, we still see deeply troubling evidence that it continues," Ban said.
While this drags on, the violence on ground continued across Syria over the weekend.
Syria's state-run SANA news agency said that "armed terrorist groups" continued their crimes against civilians and army personnel Thursday in a sign of violation to Annan's peace plan.
It said two civilians were killed and another was injured in separate attacks carried out by armed groups in southern Daraa province.
In eastern Deir al-Zour province, authorities thwarted an attempt by armed groups to attack an oil field in the oil-rich province, said SANA.
Also in Deir al-Zour, a security agent was killed and six others were injured, including a colonel, when armed groups fired at a security patrol in al-Joura neighborhood, according to SANA.
Separately, armed groups assassinated on Thursday a computer teacher in the Damascus suburb of Joubar, said SANA.
On the other hand, the Britain-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reportedly said that clashes erupted Thursday between the Syrian government troops and the rebel forces in eastern Deir al-Zour province, leaving at least one person killed and three others wounded.
The activists also reported shelling of rebellious neighborhoods in central Homs province.
Despite the cease-fire, violence continued across Syria but not in the same high rate as before.
The Syrian government blames the year-long crisis on armed groups working out a foreign conspiracy.
The UN estimated that more than 9,000 people have so far been killed in the Syrian conflict, including at least 500 children, while Syria says 6,044 have died, including 2,566 soldiers and police.