A woman holds her Syrian passport while sitting in a car with relatives on the Lebanese-Syrian border in al-Masnaa. -Reuters Photo

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously voted to give the UN observer mission in Syria a “final” 30-day mandate.

Russia had threatened to veto a British-drafted resolution, but Russia's ambassador Vitaly Churkin finally backed the resolution.

The vote was taken only hours before the end of the 90-day mandate for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). The 300 unarmed observers and 100 civilian staff suspended operations on June 16 because of the mounting violence.

Russia had wanted an unconditional extension of the mission. Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a western-backed resolution that sought to threaten sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad if he did not end the use of heavy weapons in the Syria conflict.

The resolution voted Friday said the council only keep UNSMIS going after the 30 days if UN “reports and the Security Council confirms the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient to allow UNSMIS to implement its mandate.”

Western envoys have stressed that they believe UNSMIS will now be closed down.


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