Close to 260 UN observers deployed in Syria

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Ahmed Himmiche (centre), head of the UN Military Observers (UNMO) dispatched to Syria, is approached by citizens of Homs as he and his team patrol the city. (21 April 2012)

The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) is expected to be fully operational in record time, according to its head.

Major-General Robert Mood told reporters in the country's capital, Damascus, on Friday that there are now close to 260 unarmed UN observers on the ground from nearly 60 countries.

He said the arrival of observers has had a calming effect on the situation where protests against the government have evolved into armed confrontations in some parts of the country.

Major-General Mood said the mission is on its way to achieving what he called "a successful surged deployment".

"I am going to authorize the move from the first phase of the Mission — involving pre-deployment arrangements, involving planning – to the phase of operating a Mission with partial deployment. I anticipate that we will achieve the final phase of full operational capacity in record time."

Major-General Mood stressed that an end to violence in Syria can only be achieved if there is commitment by all those involved in the conflict inside and outside the country to give dialogue a chance.

Duration: 26″

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