The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution extending the 300-member U.N. observer force in Syria for a final 30 days, while leaving open the possibility of an extension.
The vote came a day after Russia and China vetoed another U.N. resolution to threaten “non-military sanctions against the Syrian regime if it didn’t withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days,” the AP reported.
Russia was initially against the observer mission resolution as well, because a draft version came with the precondition that the mission could only be renewed past 30 days if Syrian troops had stopped using heavy weapons and had withdrawn from towns and cities, Reuters reported.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, took issue with the draft’s insistence on Syrian authorities halting the use of heavy weapons.
“The Security Council initially approved the deployment of the observer mission, known as UNSMIS, to monitor a failed April 12 cease-fire. UNSMIS suspended most of its monitoring activity on June 16 due to increased risk from rising violence,” the wire reported.
Last month, Gen. Robert Mood, the UNSMIS commander, said observers would cease patrols and stay in their current locations because the escalation in violence had made it difficult for the observers, who are unarmed, to do their work.
Commending the efforts of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS),
1. Decides to renew the mandate of UNSMIS for a final period of 30 days, taking into consideration the Secretary-General’s recommendations to reconfigure the Mission, and taking into consideration the operational implications of the increasingly dangerous security situation in Syria;
2. Calls upon the parties to assure the safety of UNSMIS personnel without prejudice to its freedom of movement and access, and stresses that the primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian authorities;
3. Expresses its willingness to renew the mandate of UNSMIS thereafter only in the event that the Secretary-General reports and the Security Council confirms the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient to allow UNSMIS to implement its mandate;
4. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution within 15 days;
5. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”