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The UN Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution authorising the deployment of a team of unarmed observers to Syria.
UN special envoy Kofi Annan had earlier made clear the fragile peace needed to be shored up with the presence of international monitors, and a team could now could leave within hours.
Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the Security Council's decision, describing the plan as a "vital step" in supporting the ceasefire.
"The Syrian government must ensure that the Monitoring team has freedom of movement and access, and it must not obstruct communication between the monitors and headquarters," he said.
"I again urge the Syrian regime to comply with Kofi Annan's plan in full. It must stop troop movements towards population centres; end the use of heavy weapons in civilian areas; and withdraw the military to their barracks."
The UK representative to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said the resolution was a "valuable step forward" but claimed it should have been passed "many, many months ago".
"I think it’s significant that this is the first resolution that we’ve been able to adopt in the 15 months of the Syrian crisis," he said.
"As you know two previous attempts at a resolution were vetoed by Russia and China, so it is significant that all 15 members voted for this resolution.
"Of course we regret that it’s come so late, it should have come many, many months ago, but nonetheless I think it is a valuable step forward."
Opposition activists have alleged that government forces breached the ceasefire by firing at mourners at a funeral in Aleppo today.
The opposition also say the truce is being breached by shelling in Homs, which continues at a reduced intensity. But the government accuse rebel forces of carrying out assassinations on army officers.
Russia, which had previously vetoed any attempt at a resolution, called on all sides in Syria to "strictly" obey Mr Annan's peace plan, according to Sky News reports.
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14/04/2012 on PM, BBC Radio 4
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