By PNA / Xinhua and U.S. News Agency / Asian
UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon urged Friday the Security Council to reduce the number of unarmed military observers in Syria and focus more on political efforts to end the Middle East country’s crisis.
Ban recommended in a report submitted to the 15-nation Council that the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, or UNSMIS, with a “reduced military observer component” be redeployed to Damascus from regional cities where the conflict has grown in recent weeks.
According to a draft of the report distributed to reporters, the UN chief outlined several options for the force of about 300 unarmed military observers and more than 120 civilian staff in Syria.
One of them is to temporarily reduce the number of observers and focus on political engagement until fighting subsides.
“If UNSMIS were re-oriented in this manner, the Mission would redeploy from the field to the capital to minimize risks, retaining core civilian and military observer capacities to focus on the spectrum of initiatives feeding into the political process,” Ban wrote in the report.
He noted that from a central hub in Damascus, the civilian component would continue liaison and dialogue with opposition and government representatives in the provinces if security conditions allow.
“A reduced military observer component would support these civilian-led activities with military liaison and, as it does now, conduct visits to incident sites,” Ban added.
“A presence which shifts the primary focus to engagement recognizes that without a platform for and confidence in a political process, there is little more UNSMIS can do to urge the parties towards a cessation of violence,” the UN chief explained.
The divided Security Council must make a decision on the future of the UN mission in Syria before July 20 when its mandate expires. The Council is scheduled to discuss the issue on Wednesday and is due to vote on July 18.
UNSMIS was established by Security Council Resolution 2043 of April 21, 2012 to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties and to monitor and support the full implementation of UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan’s six-point plan to end the conflict in Syria.
On June 16, UNSMIS suspended its activities owing to an intensification of armed violence across the country. This suspension is reviewed on a daily basis.