The United Nation’s troubled observer mission to Syria has officially ended after being recalled amid escalating violence as world powers fail to agree how to end months of bloodshed in the country.
The mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) expired at midnight Sunday after a roughly four-month deployment in which its work was hobbled by growing unrest that has cost tens of thousands of lives.
Created after a UN Security Council resolution in April, a team of some 300 truce monitors was progressively deployed into Syria as part of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan to end the conflict.
It was suspended in June and numbers cut back because of the mounting violence, as both sides violated a ceasefire that was meant to have been the cornerstone of Annan’s plan.
The UN mission ended as President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public appearance for the Muslim holiday of Eid and activists staged protests across Syria to rage against the regime.
Assad joined prayers at a Damascus mosque for the Eid al-Fitr festival, his first appearance in a public place since a bomb blast last month killed four top security officials, although he has been seen on television since then.
But despite the religious holiday, his forces were still in deadly action on the ground, shelling several rebel hubs and clashing with opposition fighters in Damascus itself, a monitoring group said.
Six children, one as young as five and including four from the same extended family, were killed by shelling near their home in the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan in the northwestern province of Idlib, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In all, at least 56 people – including 22 civilians – were killed on the first day of Eid, the festival celebrated by Muslims to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Britain-based group said.
The departing UN observer mission chief on Saturday accused both Syrian army and rebel forces of failing to protect civilians.
“Both parties have obligations under international humanitarian law to make sure that civilians are protected,” General Babacar Gaye, head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, told reporters in Damascus.
“These obligations have not been respected.”
Annan, a former UN secretary general, steps down as international envoy on Syria at the end of this month after complaining about a lack of international support for his six-month campaign to make President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters end their hostilities.
The United Nations plans to maintain a political liaison office in Damascus to support the mediation efforts of his successor, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi.
Officials have said the liaison office would probably be made up of between 20 and 30 people, including political, humanitarian and military experts.
What began in March 2011 as a peaceful uprising demanding the fall of Assad’s regime has grown into a bloody insurgency, after the army and security forces launched a major crackdown across the country.
Syrians joined prayers and staged demonstrations for Eid, taking place for the second year under the shadow of a conflict the Observatory says has now claimed 23,000 lives while the UN gives a death toll of 17,000.
“Eid is here, Eid is here, God curse you, O Bashar,” protesters in Qudsaya in Damascus province sang to the tune of Jingle Bells, according to amateur video posted on YouTube.
“There is no Eid for Bashar, nothing is holy for him. They are willing to strike anywhere, mosques, hospitals, bakeries, children. What kind of Eid is this?” Abu Issa, a 39-year-old builder in Aleppo, asked an AFP correspondent.
[image via Agence France-Presse]
‘Why do we need camo in space’: Trump’s Space Force ridiculed for woodland camouflage uniforms
On Friday, the United States Space Force released an image of their new uniforms on Twitter.
The image shows a Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) for a four-star general in a woodland camouflage pattern, with a matching camo nametape.
However, many people were confused as to why the Space Force would use uniforms designed to blend in on earth.
Here's some of what people were saying:
Sorry for the question but why do we need camo in space?
BUSTED: National Archives caught doctoring exhibit to remove criticism of President Trump from women
The National Archives were caught editing an artifact from the Trump administration to remove criticism of the president, according to a bombshell new report in The Washington Post.
The newspaper reported on a "large color photograph" at the National Archives exhibit marking the centennial of women's suffrage.
"The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement. But a closer look reveals a different story," the newspaper noted.
Dershowitz is running a ‘bizarro defense’ of Trump: Harvard Law colleague says ‘Alan is just completely wacko’
Two of the most famous names associated with Harvard Law School had competing appearances on MSNBC on Friday.
It began when Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus, was interviewed MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber about his new role officially representing President Donald Trump during the Senate impeachment trial.
Dershowitz claimed that neither abuse of power nor obstruction of Congress count as "high crimes" under the constitution.
Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has also been associated with Harvard Law for five decades, was asked about Dershowitz's argument during an interview with Chris Hayes.