Syrian opposition wants UN monitors armed

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A member of the United Nations observer team readies to get into a vehicle, damaged during previous excursions, outside their hotel in Damascus on 16 June 2012. (Photo: AFP – Louai Beshara)

Published Sunday, June 17, 2012

Syria's main opposition group was "surprised" by the UN observer mission's suspension, it said on Saturday, calling on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution under Chapter VII to arm the monitors.

"At a time when the regime is committing its worst crimes against the Syrian people, we are surprised by the UN observers' decision to suspend their work, because of what they described as 'an intensification' of violence," the Syrian National Council said in a statement obtained by AFP.

The SNC's statement said the UN monitors had failed "to pinpoint the source or type of violence in question."

Suspending the mission, the statement added, "serves the criminal regime's interests, and denies the Syrian people the little protection they had."

The SNC has long been criticized by Syrian opposition groups inside the country for its lack of support on the ground.

Critics have accused the group of being too eager to back the militarization of the opposition, which could lead to civil war.

However it has secured the support and backing of Western and Gulf Arab states, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar among the states to give it financial assistance.

The SNC reiterated its calls for the UN Security Council to "intervene quickly, and to pass a resolution under Chapter VII (of the UN Charter) to arm the UN monitors, so that they can defend themselves...and ensure that the regime stops killing, while enforcing (UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's) peace plan."

UN observers sent to Syria to monitor an April 12 ceasefire that never took hold have suspended their mission, Major General Robert Mood said on Saturday.

Speaking of "intensified violence" in the past 10 days, the risk to observers and the "lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful solution," Mood said the mission is "suspending its activities."

"This escalation is limiting our ability to observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue and stability projects – basically impeding our ability to carry out our mandate."

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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