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UN Observers Leave Damascus

Monday, 20 Aug 2012 07:57 AM


BEIRUT - United Nations military observers left Damascus on Monday after a four-month mission in which they became helpless spectators of Syria's spiraling conflict, instead of monitoring a ceasefire between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels.

Seven UN cars were seen leaving a Damascus hotel on Monday morning, carrying some of the last members of a mission which at its height deployed 300 observers across the country.

The unarmed monitors suspended operations in June after coming under fire and most have already left the country, leaving a small 'liaison office' in Damascus in case a chance for a political settlement to the bloodshed ever emerges.

"Our mission failed because the two sides did not abide by their commitments," one uniformed UN observer, who declined to be named, said at the Damascus hotel.

Battling a 17-month-old uprising against his family's 42-year rule, Assad has used fighter jets and helicopter gunships to pound rebel strongholds. Insurgents have stepped up their attacks, hitting tanks, military convoys and security buildings.

The mandate of the monitoring mission, known as UNSMIS, expired on Sunday night after diplomats at the United Nations said conditions for continuing operations had not been met. The last monitors are expected to be out of the country by Friday.

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Monday, 20 Aug 2012 07:57 AM
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