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23 UN observers leave Syria Monday

08-20-2012 17:34 BJT Special Report:Crisis in Syria |

DAMASCUS, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- A total of 23 UN observers in Syria hit the road Monday and headed to the Lebanese capital of Beirut while others are bracing to leave in the next couple of days as their faltered mission officially expired Sunday.

The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) officially expired at midnight Sunday, when about six observers left Syria.

Earlier on Monday, 13 UN observers left Syria's central Homs province and arrived in Damascus waiting arrangements for their departure. Others are also expected to arrive from the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, sources told Xinhua.

Homs now has no presence of UN observers, sources said.

The exact figure of the remaining observers are not accurately determined but they are estimated at around 90.

The UN observer mission started in Syria in April. During the first days, a notable pacification has prevailed. However, such tranquility did not take hold and the clashes raged on once again.

On Thursday, the UN did not extend the mandate of the UNSMIS, agreeing instead to establish a civilian office in the capital Damascus that is seen by many experts as a good step that will guarantee an incessant UN presence in Syria.

The UN Security Council also appointed on Thursday Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi as new special envoy to Syria to replace Kofi Annan, who declared his resignation earlier this month due to the ongoing violence.

On Saturday, Babacar Gaye, head of the UNSMIS, said he was frustrated that the mission's main goal in achieving the full cessation of violence was not accomplished. However, he expressed comfort that the UN presence in Syria will not be stopped despite the expiry of his mission.

He meanwhile said the world body will stay committed to ending violence and promoting dialogues among all parties.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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