AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
DAMASCUS: Syrian forces shelled rebel areas anew on Wednesday, six days into a UN-backed ceasefire, sparking new pressure for unfettered nationwide access for an observer mission intended to oversee it. UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who was due to report to the Security Council later on Wednesday on the progress of talks between an observer advance team and Syrian officials, urged Damascus to give the mission free access across the country. But a pro-government paper reported that a protocol governing the mission’s operations might still be days away. The seven-member advance team arrived in Damascus on Sunday to prepare for the observer mission agreed with international envoy Kofi Annan as part of his blueprint for ending 13 months of bloodshed. But its efforts to reach agreement with the authorities on unrestricted access to protest centres for the full mission have so far failed to bear fruit, diplomats at the United Nations said. Pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said the advance team had held talks with foreign ministry officials on Tuesday and that the protocol should be finalised soon.