UN Observers Committed To Syria
June 20, 2012
The head of the UN observer mission in Syria says UN forces there have come under fire recently but are committed to staying in the country.
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood said questions about canceling the mission were premature and noted, "We are not going anywhere."
"Violence including shelling, small arms fire and other incidents are coming much closer and we have been targeted several times over the last few weeks. This violence to the UNMOSs [United Nations military observers] in itself but also because it made it very difficult to execute the mandated activities of my mission led me to the decision a few days ago to halt the activities of UNSMIS. I made that decision based on the risks on the ground and based on the fact that the risks made it extremely difficult to implement mandated tasks," Mood told reporters after giving the UN Security Council a closed-door update on the situation in Syria.
His comments come days after the UN announced its 300 observers based in Syria were suspending all missions because of concerns for their safety after fighting intensified over the previous 10 days.
The mission was sent to Syria to monitor a ceasefire deal brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan drafted in a six-point peace plan.
'There Is Not Other Plan'
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told reporters that it's crucial to stick with the plan, because "there is no other plan."
"Many diplomatic initiative are at work. Contacts are being held and hopefully conditions will be created one way or the other whereby the six point plan can make progress. Because again, one has to say, there is no other plan, no other game in town, there is no plan B. So the six point plan of Kofi Annan remains the reference, the framework for a settlement of this dramatic crisis," Ladsous said.
Syria's Un ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, said his government was eager to work with the UN mission to protect all Syrians from the violence.
"I reiterate on behalf of my government that Syria cares not only about couple hundreds of civilians trapped in some rebel's strongholds in Homs. But the Syrian government is totally committed to protecting the rights of 23 million Syrian civilians,"
Ja'afari told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.
Speaking to the press at the end of the G20 summit in Mexico, U.S. President Barack Obama said Russia and China understood the dangers of civil war in Syria but were not yet ready to agree to any plan to prod President Bashar Assad out of power.
Speaking as well to the press at the G20 summit, Putin said Syrians themselves should decide who rules them and that any changes to the regime be made constitutionally.
"It's important that there's not only a change of regime, but it's also vital to reach a situation so that after a change of power, done constitutionally, so that after this, there is peace in the country and the blood letting is stopped," Putin said.
Opposition groups say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.
With reporting by AFP, AP and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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