General Mood said observers were working in very difficult circumstances and were directly targeted by shelling, small arms fire and other incidents. He said he had no choice but to halt operations.
“I made that decision based on the risks on the ground and based on the fact that risks made it extremely difficult to implement mandated tasks”, the Chief Military Observer told reporters after the meeting.
While he is concerned for the safety of UN observers, Mood said that the ongoing violence “is first and foremost a disrespect to the Syrian people” and that the goal of UNSMIS is “to serve the aspirations of the Syrian people”. He noted that the suffering of men, women and children in Syria is “getting worse.” However, in order to restart the monitoring activities of UNSMIS, there has to be a “significant” reduction of violence in the country. Mood also stressed the need for both the Government and the opposition to ensure the observers’ safety and security, as well as their freedom of movement.
“I fully understand General Mood’s decision to suspend UNSMIS’s operations. The risk to the observers’ safety is a serious cause of concern. At the same time, their absence could put civilians in even greater danger,” Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre said after Major-General Mood first made his decision known.
The Security Council established UNSMIS in April to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as observe and support the full implementation of a six-point peace plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan. The six-point plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.