NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) -- The United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC) on Friday renewed the mandate of the UN monitoring mission in Syria for an additional period of 30 days, just a day after Russia and China vetoed another resolution which would have threatened the Syrian government with new sanctions.
The UN Security Council established the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) in April to monitor violence in Syria and the implementation of a six-point peace plan put forward by UN-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan. It was approved for an initial period of 90 days until Friday, and its mandate will now be extended by a final period of 30 days.
The resolution to extend UNSMIS was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council. The members said it took into consideration UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recommendations to reconfigure the Mission, as well as the operational implications of the increasingly dangerous security situation in Syria.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the extension, saying it gives the Syrian regime 'one last opportunity' to live up to its commitments. "The Assad regime must take steps to establish an environment in which the UN Mission can work safely and effectively by ceasing the use of heavy weapons and the brutal assaults of its security forces," he said. "This is the final chance for it to do so."
The Mission had recently suspended its regular patrols due to the escalating violence in the country, and Hague said it is now for Ban to judge how UNSMIS should be reconfigured. "I pay tribute to the monitors who, with great courage, continue to do all that they can to help the Syrian people in their hour of need," he said.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President al-Assad began nearly 1.5 year ago. The opposition believes the number of deaths has already surpassed 17,000.
On Thursday, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have threatened the Syrian government with new sanctions if it did not withdraw its forces and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days. Many countries condemned Russia and China, including the United States which said they are "on the wrong side of history", but Russia said the resolution was unilateral and unrealistic.
"More importantly, the draft resolution failed to lay down such conditions for the Syrian armed opposition," a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "In effect, the co-authors of the resolution proposed to the UNSC that it encourage the opposition in its armed struggle against the Syrian government which will only stoke up the civil war in the country."
Earlier this month, Kofi Annan said he reached an agreement with Assad on an approach to bring an end to the violence. Assad also reassured his government's commitment to the six-point peace plan, which calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
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