UN ends observer mission in Syria
The United Nations has decided to end its military observer mission in Syria, days before its mandate expired.
A small, civilian office will be set up instead to maintain political contacts.
“The conditions to continue UNSMIS were not filled,” France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud said after a Security Council meeting.
The UN mission had been part of envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan. But continued violence made the observers’ mission increasingly difficult.
A bomb exploded close to their hotel in Damascus on Wednesday. The observers’ patrols were suspended in mid-June because of the “significant risk to their lives” and diplomats said the condition for renewing their mandate – a reduction in violence – had not been met.
Russia warned earlier that pulling out of Syria would have “serious negative consequences” for the region.
Kofi Annan resigned as UN-Arab League envoy to Syria a fortnight ago, complaining of a “clear lack of unity” in the Security Council.
Although the 101 remaining military observers will leave Damascus over the next eight days, a civilian liaison office is due to remain and a new special envoy is expected to be appointed.
Vitaly Churkin said Russia had called for a meeting on Friday of Security Council members as well as representatives from Saudi Arabia and Iran to discuss the crisis.
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