'Chief monitor said UN Syria team was targeted'

UN diplomats: Mood told UNSC observers repeatedly targeted by hostile crowds prior to decision to suspend Syria mission.

By REUTERS
June 20, 2012 00:05
1 minute read.
UN monitors arrive in Damascus

UN monitors arrive in Damascus 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Khaled al- Hariri )

 
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UNITED NATIONS - The chief UN monitor for Syria told the Security Council on Tuesday that his military observers were repeatedly targeted by hostile crowds and close-range gunfire last week prior to his decision to suspend operations, UN diplomats said.

General Robert Mood of Norway told the 15-nation council behind closed doors that his 300-strong unarmed observer force was targeted with close-range gunfire or hostile crowds at least 10 times last week, UN diplomats present at the meeting told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

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Mood said that "indirect fire" incidents in which gunfire struck within 300-400 meters of observers occurred on a daily basis, envoys said. Last week nine vehicles of the observer mission, known as UNSMIS, were struck or damaged, they added.

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Last week UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said that after 15 months of fighting between government forces and what began as a peaceful opposition demanding reforms and the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Syria was now in the throes of a full-scale civil war.

Days after Ladsous made that announcement in an interview with Reuters and AFP, Mood declared that UNSMIS had suspended operations, in the clearest sign yet that a peace plan brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan has collapsed.

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