The U.N. Security Council will not renew the mandate of a U.N. observer mission in Syria, which is due to expire in the coming days, and will begin its withdrawal from the country, French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said on Thursday.
“The mandate of UNSMIS is over on the 19th of August ... UNSMIS will fade out,” said Araud, who is the president of the Security Council for the month of August. He said conditions for renewing the mandate had not been met.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the permanent five Security Council members - Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain - and key regional players would meet on Syria in New York on Friday. He added that he regretted that the U.N. observer mission will end.
“The conditions to continue UNSMIS were not fulfilled,” Araud said.
“The mission will come to an end at midnight on Sunday,” Edmond Mulet, of the U.N. peacekeeping department told reporters.
Earlier this year, the U.N. Security Council authorized sending up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor a ceasefire that U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan negotiated with President Bashar al-Assad.
But hostilities have only worsened and the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria suspended its patrols on June 15.
As of Thursday the number had been cut to 101 observers and 72 civilian staff. Mulet said the last observer would leave Damascus on Friday next week.
The Security Council did back a plan by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to start a political liaison office in Damascus to monitor events.
Mulet told reporters it would probably be between 20 and 30 people with political, humanitarian and military experts taking part.
He added that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad had approved setting up the political office.