World Bulletin / News Desk
Major General Robert Mood left his hotel in Damascus on Thursday to fly to Geneva after a 90-day U.N. peace monitoring mission to Syria ended, even as battles between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels raged in parts of the capital.
The observers' mandate ends on Friday, but the United Nations' 15-nation Security Council is set to decide later on Thursday whether it should be extended for 45 days.
"I leave satisfied that I, and some 400 brave women and men, have done our best, under very challenging circumstances," Mood, who led the U.N. mission, told a news conference in the Dama Rose hotel.
"For the sake of the Syrian people we need effective leadership from the Security Council and genuine unity around a political plan that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and that is accepted by the Parties," Mood said.
"Government and opposition must be willing to make the necessary concessions and sit at the negotiating table," he added, saying there was no hope for the crisis to be resolved through fighting.
Separately, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he was alarmed by the intensifying violence in Syria, saying he strongly condemned the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday that killed the Syrian defence minister and President Assad's brother-in-law.
Mood's farewell speech came as the U.N. Security Council was preparing to vote later on Thursday on a Western-backed resolution that threatens Syrian authorities with sanctions and is aimed at ending the 16-month conflict.
Russia, a key ally of Syria, has refused to engage in negotiations on the resolution that would extend the U.N. observer mission in Syria for 45 days and place envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, diplomats say.
U.N. monitors, who have been unable to halt the violence, suspended patrols in June after repeated attacks on convoys.
Police said the suspect, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, was not known to them before Monday's carnage in Canada's most populous city, which also left 15 people injured.
At least 41 Palestinians were martyred by Israeli gunfire on Gaza border since March 30
Talks are expected to tackle the possibility of U.S. troop withdrawal from war-torn Syria
Plans to roll out an appeals process globally in coming months came as Facebook provided a first-ever look at internal standards used to decide what posts go too far in terms of hateful or threating speech.
John Bolton led Gatestone Institute from 2013 until he took his White House position earlier this month
Attack ‘not part of a wider plot and there is no threat to national security’, says public safety minister
That vote, scheduled to take place at about 5:00 pm (2100 GMT), would not end the nomination, but would put a negative recommendation in the hands of the closely-divided full Senate -- where his approval is not guaranteed.
The company said in a message to customers that the attack was detected on January 14, at a time when the app had 14 million users in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey, according to the economic news website Arabian Business.
We hope everyone remains fully committed to implementation and long-term preservation, says UN under-secretary-general
Obama, who met with Mandela in 2005 and who made an emotional address at his funeral, will speak at the lecture marking 100 years since the anti-apartheid icon was born.
A total of 41 Gazans have been martyred by Israeli gunfire since March 30
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL positions in Syria
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL locations in neighboring Syria
Turkish Historical Society head cites research from past wars
Palestinian president stresses on 2-state solution to conflict, calls East Jerusalem capital