UN Ends Observer Mission in Syria

The United Nations calls an end to its military observer mission in Syria, days before its mandate expires.

Elad Benari ,

Picture of Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad
Picture of Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad
israel news photo: Flash 90

The United Nations on Thursday called an end to its military observer mission in Syria, days before its mandate expired, the BBC reported.

A small, civilian office will be set up instead to maintain political contacts, the report said.

“The conditions to continue [the mission] were not filled,” France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud, the current president of the Security Council, said after a Security Council meeting.

“So the mission will come to an end at midnight on Sunday,” he added.

The UN mission had been part of envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, but continued violence made the observers' mission increasingly difficult.

Russia warned earlier that pulling out of Syria would have "serious negative consequences" for the region, according to the BBC report.

Moscow's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said Russia, which has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, wanted the UN to make an international appeal for the Syrian conflict to end.

Annan recently resigned as UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, complaining of a "clear lack of unity" in the Security Council.

UN deputy peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet said that an estimated 20 to 30 people would staff the liaison office that will remain in Syria after the observers leave.

“The situation on the ground is extremely difficult. But the fact that it's difficult doesn't mean we shouldn't face that challenge of trying to open those political spaces in the future,” he told reporters at the UN.

On Wednesday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) officially suspended Syria from membership.

The development came as would-be rescuers searched for survivors amid the rubble left after Syrian government forces shelled a town in Aleppo province near the border with Turkey.