U.N. Suspends Its Mission in Syria, Citing Rising Violence

New York Times

U.N. Suspends Its Mission in Syria, Citing Rising Violence

By The Associated Press

BEIRUT — The chief of the United Nationsobservers inSyria said on Saturday that the mission was suspending its activities and patrols because of escalating violence in the country.

The head of observers, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, said in a statement that the bloodshed was posing significant risks to the observers and was impeding their ability to carry out their mandate.

The observers will not be conducting patrols, he said, and will stay in their locations in the country “until further notice.”

The observers were sent to the country after Kofi Annan, a special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League, brokered a peace plan that included a cease-fire that was supposed to take effect on April 12. But both sides have continued to stage daily attacks, and the observers have been caught up in the violence on several occasions.

“U.N. observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice,” General Mood said in a statement Saturday. He said the observers would not leave the country, and the suspension would be reviewed on a daily basis.

“Operations will resume when we see the situation fit for us to carry out our mandated activities,” he said.

The suspension is the latest sign that a peace plan brokered by Mr. Annan is disintegrating.

Western powers have pinned their hopes on the plan, in part because there are no other options on the table.

“The lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful transition, and the push towards advancing military positions is increasing the losses on both sides,” General Mood said. “It is also posing significant risks to our observers.”

The observers have been tasked with monitoring the cease-fire and supporting the full implementation of Annan’s six-point plan, which was supposed to lead to talks between the sides.

Last week, an observers’ convoy was blocked and attacked as it was trying to head to the town of Haffa in the coastal Latakia region, where troops had been battling rebels for a week.

The observers only managed to get in once government troops had seized the area back from the rebels.

On May 15, a roadside bomb damaged observers’ cars shortly after they met with Syrian rebels in the northern town of Khan Sheikoun. A week earlier, a roadside bomb struck a Syrian military truck in the south of the country just seconds after General Mood drove by in a convoy.

Still, the observers’ presence has been an important source of independent information, particularly as Syria bars journalists from reporting freely in the country.

Despite fears that violence could significantly worsen without the their presence on the ground, prominent activist Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was better for the observers to leave.

“We haven’t seen anything beneficial from them. If they are independent — so what?” he said. “A lot of crimes happened in Syria, and they couldn’t do anything.”

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Posted on June 16, 2012, in Arab Spring, Morocco News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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