As the Security Council prepares to debate the renewal of UN supervision mission to Syria, the UN’s top military observer Thursday announced he was restructuring the deployment of peacekeepers through out the country.
The head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria Major General Robert Mood says the UN is relocating peacekeepers from embattled towns and cities in Syria and redeploying them in larger regional groups, less than two weeks before the mission’s initial mandate is set to expire.
“It is time to stop spreading ourselves out too thin and restructure in a way that will allow us, once we resume our activities, to conduct targeted tasks that require longer periods of stay in particular area as well as larger number of observers, specialized in a variety of civilian and military affairs.” he told reporters in Damascus. “In the next week we will consolidate our 8 local team site locations into Regional ones. The Mission will relocate personnel and assets from Hama, Idleb and Tartus to boost our presence in other locations.”
The UN dispatched a team of 300 unarmed military observers to Syria in April, but the mission suspended patrols and activities in mid-June after a surge in violence was preventing observers from safely carrying out their work. Western members of the UN Security Council have already warned they would not extend the UN mission in Syria’s mandate, which expires July 20th, if high levels of violence continued.
Mood echoed those statements Thursday, arguing the UN mission couldn’t resume its mandated activities until the Syrian government and opposition groups accepted a ceasefire and a political solution to the crisis.
“The Council did not deploy the Mission to stop violence or to observe an escalation in violence, but to monitor the cessation of violence implemented by the parties.” he said Thursday. “The longer the violence goes on, with more civilians killed or trapped in the line of fire, the more difficult it will become to have a peaceful transition.”
Mood says the UN mission is nevertheless placing itself in a position where it would be able to resume activities quickly and effectively should all parties to the crisis recommit themselves to the ceasefire and peace plan.
“We will reinforce our presence into Regional Team Sites to give us, once our operations resume, the flexibility to effectively work on facilitating political dialogue and stability projects.” he said.