Inside Syria
Has the UN observer mission failed in Syria?
As the UN suspends its mission amid rising violence, we ask how their withdrawal could impact the Syrian people.
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2012 11:55

The UN observer mission in Syria was suspended on Saturday. Mission chief Major General Robert Mood announced the decision, citing increasing violence against the observer teams.

He said: “In this high risk situation, UNSMIS is suspending its operations. UN obververs will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice. Engagement with the parties will be restricted. This suspension will be reviewed on a daily basis. Operations will resume when we see the situation fit for us to carry out our mandated activities.”

"If they should be withdrawn it would be a very strong signal that there is real chaos ahead and that there's nothing that the UN team can do on the ground."

- Richard Murphy, a former US ambassador to Syria

The announcement came as members of Syria's opposition groups were concluding their latest meeting in Turkey. For two days, Syrian opposition groups have met in Istanbul in a fresh attempt to settle their differences and reach a consensus for a post-Assad Syria. But discussions failed to yield a statement, or indeed any sense of unity.

Will the withdrawal of UN monitors make any difference in Syria? Will it be a negative or a positive for the anti-Assad opposition? Where does it leave the international community and its next move? And have the observers achieved anything?

Joining Inside Syria to discuss this are: Ausama Monajed, is a member of the Syrian National Council and Executive Director of the London-based Strategic Research and Communication Centre; Sherkoh Abbas, the secretary-general of the Syria Democracy Council; and Richard Murphy, who served as US ambassador to Syria between 1974 and 1978, and is a former US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.

"It [the UN observer mission] did achieve [something] in terms of bringing the message that there is a problem in Syria and there are humanitarian issues. However, it failed to do anything in terms of bringing international support for the Syrian people. We see the Syrian people being slaughtered by the regime and there is no serious effort by the international community."

Sherkoh Abbas, the secretary-general of the Syria Democracy Council


  • General Mood announced the suspension of the UN monitor's mission
  • He said the rising violence is posing significant risks to the observers
  • General Mood warned that the UN mission was not open-ended
  • The head of the monitors mission said that both sides lack the willingness for peace
  • The mission was set up by the Security Council to monitor a peace plan
  • Instead, it found itself reporting on the aftermath of what many believe have been massacres
  • According to the UN fighting has intensified over the past 10 days
  • UN monitors claim 14,500 people have been killed in Syria so far
  • Diplomatic efforts to tackle the crisis in Syria achieved little success
  • UN officials have said Syria is now embroiled in full-scale civil war



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