UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia and China joined the rest of the U.N. Security Council on Saturday to authorize the deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers to Syria to monitor the country's fragile ceasefire as called for by U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan.
It is the first resolution the 15-nation council approved since the anti-government uprising in Syria began 13 months ago. Moscow and Beijing twice vetoed council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's assault on protesters opposed to his rule.
Although Syria's close ally and arms supplier Russia voted in favor of the resolution, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin made clear that there were limits to the kind of U.N. action Moscow could support.
"Out of respect for the sovereignty of Syria we have cautioned against destructive attempts at external interference or imposing any kind of illusory fixes," he said.
The resolution had the council "condemning the widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities, as well as any human rights abuses by armed groups, recalling that those responsible shall be held accountable."
The resolution calls on "all parties, including the opposition, immediately to cease all armed violence in all its forms."
It also included a vague warning to Damascus, saying the council would "assess the implementation of this resolution and to consider further steps as appropriate."
Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Friday that the first group of observers were on stand-by and ready to fly to Syria as soon as the council approved their deployment.
(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Vicki Allen)