The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved resolution 2043 authorizing up to 300 unarmed U.N. observers to be deployed for 90 days to Syria to monitor a tenuous ceasefire that has failed to end 13 months of violence.
“We are sober about the risks,” said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, “all the more so given the Assad regime’s long record of broken promises, deceit, and disregard for the most basic standards of humanity.” The U.N. estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began.
After the U.N. Security Council recently called on the Syrian government to honor all its obligations, including a sustained ceasefire, the regime unleashed yet another wave of horrific violence against its own people resulting in the deaths of scores of Syrians.
The government’s use of shelling and heavy weaponry, in particular in Homs, has reached levels that surpass those before the ceasefire. Syrian government troops and armor have not been withdrawn from cities and returned to barracks. Protesters are still being intimidated and murdered by government forces.
The status of thousands of detainees remains unclear. And little progress has been made on the issue of humanitarian access, with an estimated one million civilians still in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Ambassador Rice said the United States is not willing to wait the full 90 days of the initial deployment to pursue other measures against the Assad regime if it continues to violate international commitments or obstruct the work of the monitors.
“The Syrian people, like us, know that the deployment of 300, or even 3,000, unarmed observers cannot on its own stop the Assad regime from waging its barbaric campaign of violence against the Syrian people. What can bring a halt to this murderous rampage is continued and intensified external pressure on the Assad regime," she said.
The United States supports implementation of the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan. “Yet, let there be no doubt,” said Ambassador Rice, “we, our allies and others in [the U.N. Security Council] are planning and preparing for those actions that will be required of us all, if the Assad regime persists in the slaughter of the Syrian people.”