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Syria: ahead of Security Council meeting, Ban urges 'collective and effective' action

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Syria: ahead of Security Council meeting, Ban urges 'collective and effective' action

Ahead of Security Council deliberations on Syria today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hopeful the 15-member body will take action to resolve the crisis in the Middle Eastern country, according to his spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General sincerely hopes Security Council members shoulder their responsibility and take collective and effective action with a sense of urgency,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a note to the media.

The Council had originally been scheduled to discuss the situation in Syria on Wednesday.

The spokesperson added that the Secretary-General had taken note of the Council's decision to postpone the deliberations because of the “dramatic developments” which took place in the capital, Damascus, yesterday.

A bomb attack on the National Security Headquarters building, during a high-level meeting, killed and wounded Government officials. Syria's defence minister and his deputy were reported amongst those killed, and opposition forces reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

In addition, there were reports of clashes between Syrian Government forces and opposition fighters in several neighbourhoods of Damascus.

The Secretary-General – along with the Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan – has repeatedly expressed the hope that the Council can reach agreement on a course of collective action.

The crisis in Syria has continued unabated since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago. The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced.

In addition, the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) – which recently suspended its regular patrols due to the escalating violence on the ground – ends on 20 July, with Council members expected to decide on its future before then.

The Council established UNSMIS in April to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitor and support the full implementation of a six-point peace plan – put forward by Joint Special Envoy Annan earlier this year – which calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.

UNSMIS recently suspended its regular patrols due to the escalating violence on the ground.

Speaking to the media in Damascus today, its head and Chief Military Observer, Major-General Robert Mood, called on all parties to halt the violence in all its forms, and recommit to a peaceful solution to the conflict, in the wake of Wednesday's violence.

Addressing the impending end of UNSMIS' mandate, the Chief Military Observer noted that the Mission's future was in the hands of Council members.

“For the sake of the Syrian people we need effective leadership from the Security Council and genuine unity around a political plan that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and that is accepted by the parties,” he said.

Major-General Mood stated that both the Government and the opposition must be willing to make necessary concessions, and that if these events take place, then a UN presence on the ground can contribute to improving the situation of the ground.

“The mandate of UNSMIS will become relevant when the political process takes off,” he said.” That is why any extension of the Mission would come with a shift to a more political posture.”