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.
A recently-emerged militant group called the Hasm Movement has responsibility for an assassination attempt on a senior Egyptian prosecutor, saying it was in revenge for death sentences handed to thousands of convicts.
The largest hospital in rebel-held Aleppo has been hit by barrel bombs, according to a NGO working in the city.
The Free Syrian Army has edged closer to Hama and has captured 13 villages previously that of the regime
Demonstrators from across Jordan’s political spectrum decry energy agreement inked with Jewish state
Infant is pulled from rubble of building flattened by regime, Russian warplanes
Five regime soldiers also die during ongoing clashes in northwestern Syria
Dozens of world leaders bid farewell to Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, whose detractors have described as ‘war criminal’
Syria's anti-regime opposition now stands only 15 kilometers from Hama city
If passed, law would allow victims of extremist attacks to sue foreign governments deemed responsible
The Tuwal district of Jazan, on the Saudi frontier with Yemen, came under fire on Thursday afternoon, wounding the border guard corporal, a ministry statement said.
"It is well into its terrible descent into the pitiless and merciless abyss of a humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria," said the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.
A Cairo court has approved the redrawing of the maritime boundary between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on Thursday, according to a report in Egypt’s state TV news portal Egynews.
Phone call dominated by violence in Aleppo plus Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria
Turkish foreign minister insists any joint efforts must contain political solution, ceasefire
U.S. supports extremism by refusing to collaborate with Russia on fight against ISIL, Deputy Russian FM says
Funeral of former Israeli PM Shimon Peres – who passed away Wednesday – to be held same day