A senior representative of the Free Syrian Army met the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford and special co-ordinator for the Middle East, Frederick Hoff, in the past week at the US State Department.
Mission chief, Major-General Robert Mood: ‘There has been an intensification of armed violence.’Photo: Reuters
THE UN military observers sent to Syria to monitor an April 12 ceasefire that never took hold have suspended their mission, veteran peacekeeper Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood says.
Speaking of intensified violence over the past 10 days, the risk to observers and the ”lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful solution”, he said the mission is ”suspending its activities.”
”There has been an intensification of armed violence across Syria over the past 10 days,” the mission chief said. ”This escalation is limiting our ability to observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue and stability projects – basically impeding our ability to carry out our mandate.
Demonstrators take part in a protest against the Assad regime in Yabroud, near Damascus, yesterday. Photo: Reuters
”The lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful transition … is increasing the losses on both sides: innocent civilians, men women and children are being killed every day. It is also posing significant risks to our observers.”
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels have held meetings with senior US government officials in Washington as pressure mounts on America to authorise a shipment of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, to combat the Assad regime.
A senior representative of the Free Syrian Army met the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and special co-ordinator for the Middle East, Frederick Hoff, in the past week at the US State Department, sources said.
The rebels have compiled a ”targeted list” of heavy weaponry, including anti-tank missiles and heavy machineguns, that they plan to present to US government officials in the coming weeks.
The consultations come before this week’s G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where British and US officials are expected to make a last-ditch attempt to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in the Syria crisis.
Privately, Western diplomats admit they now harbour scant hope of forcing a change of heart on Russia, which has steadfastly refused to bow to US and British pressure to do more to arrest Syria’s slide into sectarian civil war. While there remains little appetite for direct Western military intervention, advanced contingency plans are already in place to supply arms to the rebels.
The move is expected to gather force following the expected failure of the Annan peace plan and the meeting of the Syria contact group scheduled for June 30 in Geneva.
Senior Middle Eastern diplomatic sources said Libyan-supplied weapons, paid for by Saudi Arabian and Qatari government funds and private donations, had already been stockpiled in expectation of the ”inevitable” intervention needed to end the Assad regime.
”The intervention will happen. It is not a question of if but when. The Libyans are willing to provide the anti-tank weapons, others are prepared to pay for it,” a source said.