UN Syria mission to end

2012-08-16 22:21
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous addresses members of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (Unsmis) during a meeting with Unsmis observers in Damascus. (Louai Beshara, AFP)

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous addresses members of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (Unsmis) during a meeting with Unsmis observers in Damascus. (Louai Beshara, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - The United Nations' four-month-old observer mission in Syria will withdraw from the country next week, diplomats and UN officials said on Thursday, yet another blow to the world body's efforts to broker an end to the conflict.

"The mandate of Unsmis is over on the 19th of August... Unsmis will fade out," said French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud, who is the president of the Security Council for the month of August.

Speaking to reporters after a closed-door meeting of the council, he said conditions for renewing the mandate of the observer mission in Syria, known as Unsmis, had not been met.

The death of Unsmis cast further doubt on the viability of outgoing international mediator Kofi Annan's moribund six-point peace plan for Syria. Some Western diplomats describe that plan as doomed, while others suggest it could still be salvaged.

Annan, a former UN secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will step down on Aug. 31. He has criticised the 15-nation council for failing to agree on steps that could have pressured Syria's government and rebels to stop fighting.

Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has agreed to replace Annan as the international mediator on Syria but with an altered mandate, UN sources said on Thursday.

Envoys said he has demanded "strong support" from the Security council and a source familiar with the situation said that Brahimi would not continue with Annan's "failed approach".

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Annan's peace plan was still relevant. He added that the permanent Security Council members - Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain - and key regional players would meet on Syria in New York on Friday morning to discuss the crisis.

"We're sorry that the Unsmis mandate is coming to an end," Churkin told reporters. "We believe that those members of the council who insisted that Unsmis can't continue did not really show commitment to ending hostilities and to working toward a political settlement in Syria."

Russia vetoe

Russia had repeatedly called for the monitors to remain in Syria. But the United States opposed keeping them in the country as long as Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces escalated their 17-month-old onslaught against an increasingly well armed, experienced and determined opposition.

Moscow, with the aid of Beijing, has vetoed three resolutions criticising and threatening sanctions against Syria. That has led to an impasse on the council, Western envoys say. Moscow blames the deadlock on Washington and its allies, saying they are supporting the rebels in pursuit of "regime change."

The Security Council said last month it would only renew the mandate of Unsmis, which was deployed in April to monitor a truce that never took hold, if the world body confirmed a "cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence by all sides sufficient" for it to operate.

In a 10 August letter to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this has not been achieved and the mission "has not been able to exercise its key functions of monitoring the cessation of violence".

Deputy UN peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet told reporters that the mission's legal mandate would expire at midnight New York time on Sunday (04:00 GMT) and the last military observers would be out of Syria by 24 August.

"It is clear that both sides have chosen the path of war, open conflict and the space for political dialogue and cessation of hostilities and mediation is very, very reduced at this point, but that doesn't mean we should not be engaged in that," Mulet told reporters after privately briefing the council.

"The situation on the ground is extremely difficult," he said. "But the fact that it's difficult doesn't mean that we should not face that challenge of trying to open those political spaces in the future."

Action group to meet

The mission's initial 300 unarmed observers suspended most of their activity on 16 June because of increased risk from rising violence. Unsmis now has over 70 civilian staff working issues such as aid access and monitoring human rights abuses.

Mulet said Unsmis would be replaced with a UN political liaison office with 20 to 30 people, including military advisers and human rights, aid and de-mining experts.

Churkin said Friday's meeting of the so-called "Action Group" on Syria in New York would take place at 11:00 EDT (15:00 GMT). In addition to Russia, China, the United States, Britain and France, it will include regional players like Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, which did not participate in a ministerial meeting of the group in July, will not take part in Friday's ambassadorial level session, Churkin said. The group's July meeting ended with an agreement to revive Annan's peace plan and urged the government and rebels to stop fighting.

Syria says Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are arming the rebels. Washington and its allies say that Russia, Assad's chief arms supplier, and Iran are propping up the Syrian government by providing it with military support and munitions.

Read more on:    kofi annan  |  lakhdar brahimi  |  syria  |  syria conflict
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

“To infinity and beyond”….. As the Sun and the Moon move into Sagittarius you are able to let go of the emotional intensity of the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.