UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will recommend that the Security Council keep the mandate of its Syria monitoring mission unchanged while temporarily reducing the number of unarmed military observers, diplomats said on Thursday.
The idea, they said, was to shift the mission's focus from observing a non-existent ceasefire to supporting efforts aimed at securing a political solution, which world powers say is the only way out of the crisis in Syria.
The recommendation will be included in a report on options for the future of the UN mission in Syria, known as UNSMIS, which Ban is expected to present to the 15-nation council by Friday, UN diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The deeply divided Security Council must make a decision on what to do with UNSMIS before July 20. Russia and China, which have twice vetoed resolutions condemning Damascus for its assault on the opposition and threatened it with sanctions, have indicated they want the UN mission to remain in place as is.
But the United States, European council members and others have suggested that keeping hundreds of military observers in Syria to monitor a non-working ceasefire makes no sense.
The council is scheduled to vote on the issue on Wednesday.