Ban Ki-Moon backs UN presence in Syria

NEW YORK. August 11. KAZINFORM UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has urged UN Security Council to support a continued UN presence in Syria as it would facilitate a peaceful resolution to the political crisis in the violence-torn country, according to RIA Novosti.

"A continued United Nations presence in Syria that goes beyond our important humanitarian work would allow systematic and meaningful engagement with the Syrian stakeholders, inside the country...," Ban said in a letter to the UN Security Council on Friday.

"Furthermore, a flexible United Nations presence in Syria would provide the United Nations impartial means to assess the situation on the ground, which would provide the basis for the United nations to address the situation more effectively," he wrote in the document obtained by RIA Novosti.

The 15-member Security Council approved in April the establishment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) with 300 unarmed military observers, to oversee a ceasefire in Syria and monitor the implementation of UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan.

The mandate of the mission has been extended until August 19  despite the fact that most of the mission's activities have been suspended since June 16 due to escalating violence in the country.

The Syrian conflict has claimed up to 20,000 lives since March 2011, according to estimates by various opposition groups and the UN.

The UN refugee agency has registered almost 150,000 refugees in four countries bordering Syria.

Ban reiterated on Friday his concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria "as fighting in and around urban centers increases."

"The United Nations cannot discontinue its support and assistance in helping the Syrian people find an end to this crisis," the UN chief said.

The UN Security Council is expected to vote on the future of the UNSMIS on August 16 and will take into account Ban's recommendations.

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