UN Chief Ban Ki-moon — AP Photo
UN chief Ban Ki-moon. — Photo by AP

DAMASCUS: The last UN observers still in Syria have started to leave the country as their mission officially ends at midnight Sunday, a United Nations spokeswoman said.

Juliette Touma told The Associated Press that the rest of the observers would leave within hours.

There are about 100 observers left in Syria — a third of the number at the peak of the mission earlier this year.

Their departure comes after the Security Council agreed to end the UN mission and back a small new liaison office that will support any future peace efforts.

The UN's top body has acknowledged that international efforts to significantly reduce the violence and end the Syrian government's use of heavy weapons — conditions set for the mission's possible extension — have failed.

Updated Aug 18, 2012 10:02am

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