Syria's too dangerous for monitors to resume work: U.N. official

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 26, 2012 11:24 AM
Syria's too dangerous for monitors to resume work: U.N. official

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that the increasing danger in Syria made it impossible for the U.N. observer mission to consider resuming operations at the moment, a council diplomat said.

"Military operations from both sides (are) still ongoing, civilians in increasing danger," the diplomat told Reuters, summarizing Ladsous' remarks, on condition of anonymity. "Conditions are not conducive to resume operations."

"UNSMIS will seek to assist humanitarian personnel in their access to civilians," he cited Ladsous as saying behind closed doors, referring to the U.N. observer mission in Syria, known as UNSMIS.

Ladsous also told the 15-nation council that the Syrian government has barred the unarmed UNSMIS monitors from using satellite telephones, the diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"Satellite telephones for UNSMIS (are) still not allowed by (the) Syrian government, key tool to its operations, despite repeated requests," the diplomat said Ladsous told the council.

The head of the U.N. mission in Syria, General Robert Mood, announced on June 16 that the mission was suspending operations due to the increasing risks to the 300-strong force of military observers, who have been targeted with gunfire and bomb attacks.

"The more violence continues, the more it is difficult for UNSMIS to consider resuming its operations," the diplomat said Ladsous told the council.

International mediator and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's deputy Nasser al-Kidwa told the council via video link that the situation on the ground in Syria has not improved, with massive human rights violations and more civilians being killed every day, several diplomats said.

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The first envoy said Kidwa told the council that there has been an "increasing number of asymmetric attacks on government forces by opposition fighters."

Kidwa also said there was "no political dialogue, increasing militarization, and sectarianism" in the 16-month conflict, which the United Nations says has killed at least 10,000 people.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said on Monday that at least 15,000 have been killed in President Bashar al-Assad's assault on an increasingly militarized opposition that is determined to oust him.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Vicki Allen)