DAMASCUS, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- A total of 23 UN observers in Syria hit the road Monday and headed to the Lebanese capital of Beirut while others are bracing to leave in the next couple of days as their faltered mission officially expired Sunday.
The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) officially expired at midnight Sunday, when about six observers left Syria.
Earlier on Monday, 13 UN observers left Syria's central Homs province and arrived in Damascus waiting arrangements for their departure. Others are also expected to arrive from the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, sources told Xinhua.
Homs now has no presence of UN observers, sources said.
The exact figure of the remaining observers are not accurately determined but they are estimated at around 90.
The UN observer mission started in Syria in April. During the first days, a notable pacification has prevailed. However, such tranquility did not take hold and the clashes raged on once again.
On Thursday, the UN did not extend the mandate of the UNSMIS, agreeing instead to establish a civilian office in the capital Damascus that is seen by many experts as a good step that will guarantee an incessant UN presence in Syria.
The UN Security Council also appointed on Thursday Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi as new special envoy to Syria to replace Kofi Annan, who declared his resignation earlier this month due to the ongoing violence.
On Saturday, Babacar Gaye, head of the UNSMIS, said he was frustrated that the mission's main goal in achieving the full cessation of violence was not accomplished. However, he expressed comfort that the UN presence in Syria will not be stopped despite the expiry of his mission.
He meanwhile said the world body will stay committed to ending violence and promoting dialogues among all parties.
DAMASCUS, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Clashes and protests hit various parts of Syria on Sunday, the first day of Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important feasts on the Muslim calendar that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Syria's SANA state news agency said government troops are hunting down "mercenary terrorists" at Saif al-Dawla, Bustan al- Qasr, Bawabat al-Qasab, Souk al-Souf and Qastal al-Harami in northern Aleppo province, with scores of "terrorists" already killed.Full story
BEIJING, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared in public Sunday, the first day of Eid al-Fitr prayers, while UN observers started to leave the unrest-torn country as their faltering mission officially expires at midnight.
Live footage aired by Syria's state TV showed that al-Assad, flanked by top officials and ministers, performed at al-Hamad mosque in Damascus the special prayers of Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important feasts on the Muslim calendar that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Full story