December 7, 2013
Annan's team urges swift deployment of Syria observers
UN-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan's deputy told the Security Council on Thursday that the swift deployment of more observers to Syria was needed despite continued risks and persistent violence, though some council members have expressed reluctance.
A handful of observers have arrived in Syria after the Security Council authorized the deployment of up to 30 on Saturday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is now recommending that the 15-nation council quickly pass a resolution authorizing a further "initial deployment" of up to 300 unarmed monitors.
Annan's deputy, Jean-Marie Guehenno of France, told the council that deploying more military observers "would have a potential to change the political dynamics on the ground," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Other envoys who attended the briefing confirmed the remarks.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, the council president this month, said some council members voiced reservations about rushing to approve an expanded mission and were concerned about the failure of Damascus to halt the violence, return troops to barracks and withdraw heavy weapons.
Syria's ally Russia, which has accused the United States and Europeans of trying to push Libya-style "regime change" and twice joined China in vetoing council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, said the council needed to move quickly to approve the deployment of more monitors.
"We need to respond to (Ban's) request, to his proposal to authorize the full-fledged monitoring mission in Syria," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters.
"I think generally we have an understanding in the council that for a cessation of violence to be firmed up, the further deployment of the monitoring mission could play a very important role," he said.
Syria and the United Nations signed a preliminary agreement on Thursday on the terms of a ceasefire monitoring mission, but the deal skirted the vital issue of air assets, Edmond Mulet, deputy head of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, told the council.
Mulet said Syria and the United Nations had agreed to sort out the issue later, though he emphasized that use of aircraft "will be vital to the mission," a diplomat said.