Damascus: UN ceasefire monitors were touring towns near the Syrian capital on Monday, an official said, as the European Union slapped new sanctions on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Neeraj Singh, spokesman for an eight-member advance team of UN observers deployed in Syria, said monitors would be visiting areas near Damascus in hopes of making sure a tenuous ceasefire that went into effect April 12 sticks.

"The advance team is continuing its work carrying out daily visits, establishing liaison with all parties and preparing for the UN supervision mission in Syria which has been established by the UN Security Council," Singh told.

He said the advance team would be joined by two additional observers on Monday.
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A total 30 observers are expected in Syria in coming days pending the arrival of an expanded team of up to 300 observers as part of a truce brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.

But it will be up to UN chief Ban Ki-moon to determine whether the situation is safe enough to deploy the 300 observers for an initial 90-day period.

Annan on Tuesday, is to brief the Security Council on the situation.

The advance team last week toured several flashpoint regions across the country, including the battered city of Homs where two observers set up base.

But despite a lull in the fighting in regions visited by the observers, the violence has continued unabated in other areas, activists say.

At least 28 people were killed at the weekend, including five soldiers, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

(Agencies)