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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs