News / Middle East

UN Observers Pull Out of Syria

Members of the United Nations observers mission in Syria, who have left their bases in the province of Homs in Central Syria, return to their hotel in Damascus on August 20, 2012.
Members of the United Nations observers mission in Syria, who have left their bases in the province of Homs in Central Syria, return to their hotel in Damascus on August 20, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
CAIRO — Members of the United Nations observer mission wound down their operation in Damascus Monday, packing their bags and leaving Syria for Lebanon. A few observers will remain until week's end. A skeletal crew is due to stay behind and maintain a political liaison office.

With conflict raging in Syria, the United Nations Security Council decided to end the U.N. mission when its mandate expired on Sunday.

The mission, which at its height included 300 international observers, was originally intended to monitor a cease-fire that went into effect last April but failed to take hold.

That cease-fire, part of former U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, was marred by so much violence that monitors could not effectively do their work safely.

Timor Goksel, a former spokesman of the U.N.'s peacekeeping mission in neighboring Lebanon, said that the observers intended to keep the international community informed of developments on the ground and were not there to broker an end to the conflict.

"If anyone had hoped that they would stop the war, that was wrong," Goksel said. "They were there as the eyes and ears of the international community [which] doesn't really know what is going on there and they still don't know what's going on there. So, now, they're removing that."

Norwegian Gen. Robert Mood, the former commander of the mission, suspended most of the group's activities in June, after violence picked up.

No members of the mission were seriously hurt, although several teams had their vehicles damaged in bomb attacks.

New peace push

Annan resigned recently, saying that he was unable to fulfill his mission. The U.N. has turned to veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi to take his place.

Goksel, who now teaches at American University of Beirut, says that Brahimi has successfully mediated diplomatic solutions to other thorny conflicts, like the civil war in Lebanon, which ended in 1990.

"When he came to Lebanon we were already at the end of [the] conflict," Goksel said. "People were tired. The time was ripe for a solution. I don't know if the time is ripe in Syria now for a solution, but Lakhdar Brahimi knows the situation quite well. He's not a newcomer in this job. If anyone can handle it, he can.”

Brahimi told a French television station in an interview Monday that the conflict in Syria is a “civil war” and that it must be treated as such.

Syrian opposition leaders criticized Brahimi over the weekend for refusing to call for the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Violence continues

Witnesses say Syrian government forces stepped up their shelling of the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Madhamiya Monday. Opposition activists also reported heavy shelling in and around the cities of Daraa, Deir Ezzor, Homs and Aleppo.

Arab satellite channels showed amateur video of rebel Free Syrian Army fighters in several locales vowing to unite their forces under a larger central command structure.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
August 22, 2012 11:47 AM
Some of western members of the United Nations observer were obviously unfair whey they were doing their work in Syria. Right now, Obama mentioned red line - "using chemical weapons". It shows Obama is planning to make same excuses (making or using chemical weapons or nuclear weapons) to attack another country. They have used these kind of excuses for many times in the history. They used chemical weapons in Vienam war and Korean war. They used nuclear weapons in Japan(automic bomb) and Iraq(Depleted uranium bombs). All these have been proved already.
.


by: Anonymous
August 21, 2012 7:19 PM
I BLAME THIS ENTIRE MESS ON THE WORLD!
How on earth can the world not do anything??? My god, I am disgusted. If Assad was stopped there would be no more killing! We all know this... But yet nothing is happening. It is like every country is afraid it may spiral. Someone needs to take the lead and show they value human lives.


by: Tyler from: Phoenix USA
August 20, 2012 1:23 PM
You do realize every power structure uses death as a tool.


by: Byron from: Ohio, USA
August 20, 2012 11:33 AM
The miracle is that none of them were killed or wounded by Assad's murder squads. As for the observer mission, it never had a chance.


by: Michael from: USA
August 20, 2012 9:52 AM
The secular path to peace must be shocked out of it's existence, in favor of a Christian path because Christianity is a blend of antiquity and has a belief in upholding promises

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid