News / Middle East

    UN Suspends Syria Mission

    Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood, who leads the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria, speaks during a news conference, in Damascus June 15, 2012.
    Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood, who leads the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria, speaks during a news conference, in Damascus June 15, 2012.
    VOA News

    Escalating violence in Syria forced some 300 unarmed United Nations observers to suspend their mission Saturday.

    The head of the mission, Major General Robert Mood, said observers will not leave the country but "will remain in place."  

    "In this high-risk situation, UNSMIS is suspending its operations. U.N. observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice," he announced. "Engagement with the parties will be restricted. This suspension will be reviewed on a daily basis and operations will resume when we see the situation fit."

    Syrian opposition officials meeting in Istanbul, including the Syrian National Council's Bassam Imadi, said the decision comes as no surprise.

    "I think they are right to do so," he said. "And I think it is also high time to announce that the mission has failed - even the whole initiative of Mr. Annan has failed.''

    The Syrian government also responded, saying it understood the decision, blaming the violence on forces it described as "terrorists."  

    More violence

    Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated June 14, 2012Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated June 14, 2012
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    Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated June 14, 2012
    Reported Deaths Across Syria - updated June 14, 2012
    Meanwhile, amateur video posted on the Internet Saturday showed more violence, including what appeared to be evidence of heavy fighting in a suburb of the capital of Damascus and heavy shelling in the central province of Homs.  

    Syrian activists reported at least 50 people killed in clashes and shelling in several Syrian cities Saturday.
     
    The U.N. sent its observers to Syria to monitor the implementation of a six-point peace plan and cease-fire brokered by U.N. and Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan.  But the cease-fire has never taken hold and several days ago a group of observers came under attack when it went to visit the town of al-Haffeh in Latakiya.  

    U.N. observer teams have also been targets of roadside bombs. Although no one was killed or seriously wounded, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, said the observers were "one [explosion] away from a disaster."

    Decisions

    The U.N. Security Council must decide whether to renew the mission by July 15.

    The decision to suspend observer operations leaves questions about what happens next.  In Washington Saturday, a White House spokesman said the United States was consulting international partners on the "next steps."  

    In Turkey Saturday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the U.N. Security Council to act immediately, not allowing "the extension of this human tragedy," and take new measures.

    Syrian National Council Political Chief Burhan Ghalioun, in Istanbul, said he was not ready to give up all hope but agreed the U.N. must change tactics.

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    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    June 18, 2012 12:01 AM
    I think we should of armed the rebels from day one, like Mccain said. Now that Russians are taking part in the slaughter of innocent civilians it is time we equip the poor people of Syria with arms. Tank busting, helicopter busting, and possibly even ship busting equipment. A nice slap to the face of Putin is well deserved. Make him and Assad pay through the teeth in downed equipment $$. Hurt the two regimes financially without offering any service men. This is the least we could do for the Syrian people to help protect them against tyrants. It's time to help the Syrians, regardless of the mess it will make, at least they won't be slaughtered helplessly, show them we care. They need better equipment that has already been provided. Lets make the Russians and Assad regime eat the bill.

    by: peter baguley from: perth wa
    June 16, 2012 5:07 PM
    Get out of Syria and go home, you loonies. You have no idea what to do about anything. Look around the world....all the trouble is caused by people like you, interfering.You're like a mad actor in a crazy play, whatever you do never fixes anything, it just elongates it.

    by: Ying Thooj from: Asia
    June 16, 2012 3:55 PM
    Russia looking Mr. Assad of Syria going on the way like Mr Khadafi of libya. Mr. Assad you are to much selfish, you follow Russia and China but finally they bring you to the HELL.

    by: Anonymous
    June 16, 2012 3:12 PM
    Things in Syria spiral out of control........when will this all end? Something must be done!

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