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New head of U.N. monitor mission expected in Syria

Suicide bomb in Damascus targets troops
  • NEW: At least three people are reported dead in Syria on Sunday, an opposition group says
  • NEW: Protesters demanding freedom demonstrate in provinces across Syria on Sunday
  • Opposition: At least 700 people have been killed since a cease-fire deadline passed April 12
  • Syria insists it has met its obligations under Kofi Annan's peace plan; a U.S. official disagrees

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(CNN) -- While the death toll in Syria escalates despite the presence of international monitors, the newly-appointed head of the U.N. observer mission is scheduled to arrive in the besieged country Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Robert Mood of Norway will begin his work in Syria amid growing doubt that a U.N.-backed peace plan will quash the bloodshed.

At least three people were reported dead across Syria on Sunday, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.

The bodies of a father and son were found in a house in the embattled western city of Homs on Sunday, days after a massacre in the city, the group said. In addition, one man was shot to death in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, the group said.

Despite the incessant bloodshed, protesters continued demanding freedom at demonstrations in Idlib, Hama and Deir Ezzor provinces on Sunday.

A key part of a six-point peace plan laid out by international envoy Kofi Annan involves a cessation of violence by the government and opposition members.

But since the cease-fire deadline passed on April 12, at least 700 people have been killed, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.

"The plan as a whole is failing thus far," U.S. State Department Victoria Nuland said Friday. "Obviously, we can all see that it is the Assad regime that is failing to meet its obligations under the six-point plan."

But Syrian state media slammed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and blamed "armed terrorist groups" for the carnage.

"The international community continues to ignore the crimes committed by the armed gangs and their terrorist acts, and those who stand behind them in what we consider almost like a direct involvement in facilitating and implementing the terrorist plots against Syria," an editorial in the state-run Tishrin newspaper stated Saturday. "... We see the example of the Secretary-General of the United Nations recently avoiding any discussion about the violations by these armed groups while he only focuses in an outrageous manner the Syrian state as usual."

Syrian Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud said armed terrorist groups have committed more than 1,300 violations of the cease-fire, "stressing that Syria has met its obligations" according to the Annan plan, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

At least 31 people were killed across the country Saturday, the coordination committees said.

Even though the cease-fire appears to be unraveling, the United Nations is continuing its efforts to field a team to monitor the peace plan with an aim toward forging stability and ending 13 months of bloodshed.

Roughly 30 monitors are expected to be on the ground by Monday, and a total of 300 are slated to arrive in the coming month. The United States is not providing monitors, but is helping with funding and logistics.

Syria has been engulfed in violence since March 2011, when government forces started cracking down on demonstrators who were peacefully protesting President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The president's family has ruled Syria for 42 years. Some opposition members have since taken up arms against the regime forces.

The United Nations estimates at least 9,000 people have died in the conflict, while opposition groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

CNN cannot independently verify reports of violence and deaths within Syria, as the government has restricted access by most of the international media.

CNN's Saad Abedine and Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.


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