20 Aug 2012

UN observer mission in Syria ends

7:32 pm on 20 August 2012

The United Nations observer mission in Syria has formally ended.

The team was deployed in April this year to monitor a ceasefire between rebels and the government agreed as part of former UN envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, but the truce never took hold.

Last Thursday the UN Security Council decided not to extend the mission in response to growing levels of violence and ended it at midnight on Sunday, the BBC reports.

Mr Annan's successor, Lakhdar Brahimi, said on Sunday that his task was no longer to prevent a civil war, but to end one.

Kofi Annan quit at the beginning of August, saying the increasing militarisation of the conflict as well as a lack of unity in the UN made it impossible for him to carry out his task.

Russia and China have vetoed resolutions on the crisis three times, citing their opposition to any action which might be seen as regime change imposed from outside.

The appointment of Mr Brahimi, 78, an Algerian who has held a long list of high-profile diplomatic posts, was widely welcomed by the international community on Sunday.

Officials in Damascus have also offered their support.