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UN approves Syria monitors

Publication Date : 23-04-2012


The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday that authorises an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria for three months to monitor a fragile week-old cease-fire between the military and opposition.

It's the first time the council has authorised unarmed UN military observers to go into a conflict area. Saturday's resolution gave UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the final say on when to deploy them, based on his assessment of the situation.

The Security Council said it "decided to establish an initial period of 90 days a United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria under the commander of a Chief Military Observer, comprising an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers as well as an appropriate civilian component as required by the mission to fulfill its mandate".

Explaining China's vote and its co-sponsorship of the resolution, the Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN, Li Baodong, said the country always supports and is "actively committed to promoting the just, peaceful and proper settlement of the Syrian crisis through political dialogue"

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, told the council that the resolution is "of fundamental importance to push forward the peace process in Syria".

Russia and China two of the five permanent members on the 15-nation council who vetoed two resolutions on Syria in October and in February, said they supported resolving the Syrian crisis through international dialogue instead of "regime change".

This might be the last chance for the Syrian government and opposition to resolve differences peacefully within the framework of the UN, said Zhang Xiaodong, secretary-general of the China Association for Middle Eastern Studies, mentioning it was not common for all five permanent members to reach consensus on this issue.

Considering the substantial difference between the government and the opposition over the resignation of Assad, "the cease-fire is rather fragile and even a slight matter could reignite the fighting", Zhang said.

Meanwhile, Western diplomats put the onus on Syria to make the mission work. The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, warned that the US would pursue sanctions if Assad doesn't comply. "We will not wait 90 days to pursue measures against the Syrian government if it continues to violate its commitments or obstruct the monitors' work," Rice said.

However, George Gabbour, a Syrian political analyst, said that the UN decision is a "good step" and the mission would help to pinpoint the party that is responsible for the violence.

"We are optimistic about their task and it will eventually lead to a full halt of violence," he said.


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