Half of the 300 observers of the international monitoring mission quit Syria, as the body’s mandate is set to expire in less than a month. More than reports of fighting from Aleppo, Homs and Deir ez Zor, this news released by the media yesterday afternoon, raised hopes of a nearing end to the conflict.
The departure of around 150 observers comes following a decision to half the members of the mission, deployed to monitor a cease-fire that never fully entered in force. In this delicate situation, General Babacar Gaye took over the command of the MISNUS (United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria) from the Norwegian General Robert Mood.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the situation in Syria, calling on the international community to “not delay in intervening and preventing the massacre”. In a speech from Sarajevo, where he stopped on a visit in Bosnia, the UN chief made a comparison between the Middle Eastern country and that of the Balkans in the 90’s.
Remembering the victims of the massacre of Srebrenica, Ban admitted that the “UN did not live up to its responsibility. The international community failed in preventing the genocide that unfolded”, adding that for this reason “I make a plea to the world: do not delay. Come together. Act. Act now to stop the slaughter in Syria”.
Reports continue arriving from the country of thousands of Syrian regular troops converging toward Aleppo, where the battle is raging with opposition rebels: “A large number of forces were deployed to Jabal al Zawiya, in Aleppo, which is a strategic area”, confirmed Colonel al Oqaidi of the Free Syrian Army, while the fighting continues in various neighbourhoods of the city for the fifth day straight. The troops launched an offensive also in the suburbs of Damascus, where heavy bombings began yesterday morning also in residential areas. Hundreds of families were forced to abandon their homes and flee. According to some witnesses, numerous residential buildings were hit by regime helicopters.