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
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."


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.

You May Like

Photogallery Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs