News / Middle East

    UN Security Council Ends Syria Observer Mission

    Free Syrian Army fighter carries body of fellow fighter during clashes in Aleppo, August 16, 2012.
    Free Syrian Army fighter carries body of fellow fighter during clashes in Aleppo, August 16, 2012.
    Alex Villarreal
    A day after a bombing near the U.N. observer headquarters in Damascus, the United Nations Security Council decided to end the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria when its mandate expires on Sunday.
     
    “The mandate of UNSMIS is over,” French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters after the decision. The U.N. envoy from Russia, a chief Syria ally, said the Kremlin regrets the decision and will continue to push for a diplomatic solution to the near 18-month-long uprising in Syria.

    Thursday's Security Council session follows a Syrian warplane attack on Wednesday in the rebel-controlled northern town of Azaz, where more than 40 civilians were reported killed and more than 100 others wounded.

    Wounded Syrians evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.Wounded Syrians evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.
    x
    Wounded Syrians evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.
    Wounded Syrians evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.
    VOA correspondent Scott Bobb was in Azaz during the aerial attack and saw many casualties. Hospitals in nearby Turkey were overwhelmed by wounded Syrians, many of whom had lost limbs.

    Human Rights Watch monitors visiting Azaz Thursday said the attack leveled a block of houses. They said Syrian government forces may have been targeting two nearby facilities of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

    "This horrific attack killed and wounded scores of civilians and destroyed a whole residential block," the group's acting emergencies director, Anna Neistat, said. "Yet again, Syrian government forces attacked with callous disregard for civilian life."

    U.N. seeks more funding

    UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, meets with Faisal Mekdad Syrian Ambassador to UN, during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, August 14, 2012.UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, meets with Faisal Mekdad Syrian Ambassador to UN, during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, August 14, 2012.
    x
    UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, meets with Faisal Mekdad Syrian Ambassador to UN, during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, August 14, 2012.
    UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, meets with Faisal Mekdad Syrian Ambassador to UN, during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, August 14, 2012.
    The U.N. humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, is calling for more funding to help as many as 2.5 million people in need of aid in the violence-torn nation.

    Amos told reporters in the Syrian capital Thursday that fighting in the nearly 18-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has become more intense. She said the humanitarian situation in Syria has worsened since she last visited in March.

    "Over a million people have been uprooted and face destitution," Amos said in Damascus. "Perhaps a million more have urgent humanitarian needs due to the widening impact of the crisis on the economy and on people's livelihoods. Back in March, we estimated that a million people were in need of help. Now as many as 2.5 million are in need of assistance, and we are working to update our plans and our funding requirements."

    Amos said the aid that the U.N. and its partners are currently providing only partially meets the nation's needs. She appealed to the international community to "contribute more generously" and said she will continue to urge the Syrian government to ease restrictions on aid groups.

    "I continue to lobby the government to be more flexible in its approach to humanitarian operations," she said. "There is no reason why ordinary Syrians - men, women and children - should not receive as much help as is practically possible."

    U.N. investigators said Wednesday the Syrian government and their militia allies have committed war crimes that include the killing and torturing of civilians.

    The investigators said rebel forces have also committed war crimes, but that these crimes "did not reach the gravity, frequency and scale" of those committed by the government.'

    Assad losing support

    Meanwhile, the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday suspended Syria's membership because of the government's crackdown on dissent and opposition rebels.

    The French news agency says the bloc expressed "deep concern at the massacres and inhuman acts suffered by the Syrian people."

    The United States commended the OIC for the suspension. In a statement after the move, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the decision sends a "strong message" to President Assad's government.

    "Today's action underscores the Assad regime's international isolation and the widespread support for the Syrian people and their struggle for a democratic state that represents their aspirations and respects their human rights," she said.

    International divisions

    The Syrian government continues to rely on allies Russia and China to blunt growing international calls for Assad to resign.

    Syrian envoy Bouthaina Shaaban has praised China and Russia for their response to the crisis in Syria, saying that unlike the West, those countries are not acting like "colonizers."

    "We're happy to see countries like China and Russia, who are not colonizers or deal with people as colonizers,'' Shaaban said in an interview. She called that "a very different stance from the West."

    Shaaban's comments appeared Thursday in the state-run China Daily newspaper. The adviser to Assad is due to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

    China and Russia have both vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions threatening Syria with sanctions for using heavy weapons against civilians.

    Syrian activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since the start of the uprising in March of last year.

    Photo Gallery: Latest Images from Syria

    • A Free Syrian Army fighter observes the area during clashes in Aleppo, August 16, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries the body of a fellow fighter in Aleppo, August 16, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter reads the Quran before clashes in Aleppo, August 16, 2012.
    • A man searches among houses that were destroyed during a recent Syrian Air Force air strike in Azaz, August 15, 2012.
    • Syrians evacuate a wounded man from under the rubble after an air strike destroyed at least ten houses in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.
    • Injured Syrian women arrive at a field hospital after an air strike hit their homes in the town of Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.
    • A Syrian man carries an injured child to a field hospital after an air strike hit homes in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, August 15, 2012.
    • Wounded Syrians arrive at a field hospital after an air strike hit their homes in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, August 15, 2012.
    • Syrians wounded in an air strike that hit their homes evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, August 15, 2012.
    • Wounded Syrians evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, August 15, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter passes an AK-47 rifle to his fellow fighter in Aleppo, August 14, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter reacts after hearing news that his commander had been killed by tank shell in Aleppo, August 14, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires his sniper rifle from a house in Aleppo, August 14, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters sit behind a barricade on a street in Aleppo, August 13, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter observes the area with a pair of binoculars in Aleppo, August 13, 2012.

    Related Video report by Scott Bobb



    Timeline of Syria Conflict
    Loading...

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    August 17, 2012 9:08 AM
    Whats the point, the UN is made irrelevant, when the "rebels" are being armed/funded by the same people that claim, they want the "violence" to end. Regime change or WAR is what Syria's choices are...

    by: Gamla from: France
    August 16, 2012 3:05 PM
    you are wrong - I think that the UN mission is a tremendous success... when the number of dead rich 70000... or there about... we will send some more Indian and African "observers" - i think its wonderful... much better than the Arab League has done... or the league of Organized Islamic Imbeciles... OIC...

    by: Anonymous
    August 16, 2012 1:17 PM
    This UN Observer mission was a disgust to the world. All the Observers did was drive around counting atrocities while a government is bombarding civillians. Disgusting.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora