Syrian Opposition Delegation Holds Talks In Moscow

Members of a Syrian opposition delegation say they have had constructive talks with Russian diplomats.

In this image made from amateur video released by the Shaam News Network and accessed Sunday, April 15, 2012, smoke billows an impact following purported shelling in Homs, Syria. Syrian troops are reported to have shelled residential neighborhoods dominated by rebels in the central city of Homs Sunday, activists said, killing at least three people hours before the first batch of United Nations observers were to arrive in Damascus to shore up a shaky truce.

MOSCOW — Members of a Syrian opposition delegation say they have had constructive talks with Russian diplomats.

Hassan Abdul Azim, one of the leaders of the opposition National Coordination Committee, said Monday's meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and other Russian diplomats was "impressive and positive." Haytham Manna, spokesperson of the Arab Commission for Human Rights, also called the talks "very constructive and very positive."

Russia, along with China, has twice shielded Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime from proposed U.N. sanctions over its deadly crackdown on a popular uprising.

But Moscow has strongly supported a cease-fire plan by special U.N. envoy Kofi Annan to end 13 months of violence and begin talks on Syria's political future.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

GENEVA (AP) — The advance team of six U.N. observers has arrived in Damascus to monitor Syria's 4-day-old cease-fire, International envoy Kofi Annan's spokesman said Monday.

Ahmad Fawzi says the advance team will be led by Moroccan Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, and the remaining 25 observers are expected to arrive days from now.

He said in a statement that the mission "will start with setting up operating headquarters, and reaching out to the Syrian government and the opposition forces so that both sides fully understand the role of the U.N. observers."

The U.N. action comes as the cease-fire seems to be eroding, with President Bashar Assad's troops firing tank shells and mortar rounds at neighborhoods in the opposition stronghold of Homs.

Though the level of violence has dropped, the attacks raise doubts about the cease-fire.