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UN SC agrees to keep presence in Syria after end of mission’s mandate

August 15, 2012, 23:45 UTC+3

As of Wednesday noon, no draft resolution extending the mandate had been submitted to the U.N. Security Council

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UNITED NATIONS, August 15 (Itar-Tass) —— U.N. Security Council members agreed that the U.N. should keep its presence in Syria after the end of the supervision mission’s mandate.

The mandate ends on August 19. On Thursday, August 16, the U.N. Security Council will have to decide whether it should be extended or replaced by another contingent that would be better fit for working under the present conditions in Syria.

As of Wednesday noon, no draft resolution extending the mandate had been submitted to the U.N. Security Council, which indicates that the Council is prepared to face the termination of the mission on the night to August 20.

Syria has been ripped apart by violence since the riot against President Bashar al-Assad some 17 months ago. As a result, almost 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a “flexible U.N. presence in Syria”' after the observer mission ends.

“A continued UN presence in Syria that goes beyond our important humanitarian work would allow systematic and meaningful engagement with the Syrian stakeholders, inside the country,” the U.N. Secretary-General said in a letter to the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council last Friday, August 10.

Furthermore, a flexible U.N. presence in Syria would provide the UN impartial means to assess the situation on the ground, he said.

The observer mission’s mandate ends on August 19, after the Security Council voted last month to extend it for a “final” 30 days.

Meanwhile, violence and the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons by the Government as well as targeted attacks by the opposition are increasing in Syria.

A report issued by the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Syria under a mandate from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council says that the situation in that Middle Eastern country has deteriorated significantly in the past six months, with armed violence spreading to new areas and active hostilities between anti-Government armed groups and Government forces and members of the Government-controlled militia known as the Shabiha.

It said that the Syrian Government and opposition forces have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity.

While opposition forces also committed war crimes, including murder and torture, the CoI says in its report that their violations and abuses were not of the same gravity, frequency and scale as those committed by Government force and the Shabiha.

It also reiterated the need for international consensus to end the violence and pave the way for a political transition process that reflects the aspirations of all segments of Syrian society.

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