As the conflict in Syria between rebel forces and Bashar al-Assad's regime has intensified, the international community has only watched in horror as thousands of innocents have died. The U.N. -- in its typically useless fashion -- hadn't even reached consensus on denouncing the violence, thanks to Russian and China. The two countries, both able to exercise veto power on the Security Council, have tended to side with Assad, and voted down resolutions to send aid or enact sanctions.
However, they have finally joined the remaining countries and voted to send observational forces to Syria, hopefully the first step to stopping the massacre.
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved the deployment of the first wave of U.N. military observers to monitor a fragile cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition fighters.
The resolution adopted Saturday morning calls on both sides to immediately "cease all armed violence in all its forms."
It also calls on the Syrian government to implement the demand by international envoy Kofi Annan that it pull troops and heavy weapons out of cities and towns.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters Moscow would vote "yes" despite some reservations about the text. Russia has been a staunch Syria backer.
Annan's spokesman said Friday a small advance team was standing by to fly to Syria as soon as the resolution was approved.
It's probably too much to hope that Assad will peacefully meet all the demands put to him, but at the very least, it's a first step in preventing further unnecessary carnage.