UN observers end mission in Syria
The UN Security Council announced Thursday the completion of the mission of the UN observers in Syria as the powers were unable to agree on measures to deal with a conflict that continues to worsen. "The general finding was that the conditions were not met for the pursuit of this mission" said France's ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud, after a Council meeting on Syria.
"The mission ends Sunday at midnight," told the press Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary General for Operations of Peacekeeping.
France's ambassador to the UN, who chairs the Council in August added that there was "a consensus at the Council that the UN will maintain a presence in Damascus," after the end of the mission, as a liaison office.
This will be a "small group" of probably 20 to 30 policy, military and humanitarian experts, Mr. Mulet said, adding that he did not know who would be responsible, but that the Syrian government had agreed to his establishment.
He added that the last military observer mission would leave Syria on August 24.
Russia, who would have liked the Observer Mission in Syria UN (Misnus) to continue, for its part, asked Thursday that the major powers together with Saudi Arabia and Iran would launch an appeal to the Syrian government and opposition to "end the violence as soon as possible."
The Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has proposed a meeting Friday in New York for the international task force on Syria to discuss the proposal, which he said should "ask all parties to put an end to violence and set the specific time (...) when it will start."
The Misnus originally included 300 unarmed members but its numbers had been gradually reduced due to intensified fighting that had forced it to suspend their patrols in mid-June.
The Council passed a resolution last month, stating that the mission of Misnus could be renewed if there was a reduction in violence on both sides.
In fact, the toll continues to mount. In 17 months of conflict, over 23,000 people were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.
And fighting and bombing continued to rage Thursday, after the suspension of Syria from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Participants at the Council meeting Thursday also discussed who might replace Kofi Annan as UN and the Arab League mediator. Mr. Annan should step down Aug. 31. The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is struggling to convince the prospective successor to Annan, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi.
On Thursday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, calling him a "butcher of his own people."
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