UN council OKs new Syria office after observers go

Associated Press
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin answers reporters' questions at the United Nations  after a closed meeting of the Security Council,  Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012. The Security Council will let the mandate for the U.N. military observer mission in Syria expire Sunday and will back a new civilian office there to support U.N. and Arab League efforts to end the country's 18-month conflict. Churkin said an action group will meet Friday to call for an end to the violence in Syria. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council will let the mandate for the U.N. military observer mission in Syria expire Sunday and will back a new civilian office there to support U.N. and Arab League efforts to end the country's 18-month conflict.

France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud, the current Security Council president, said Thursday that members have agreed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's proposal for a liaison office.

Araud says the council agreed that conditions set for possibly extending the mission of the unarmed observers past Sunday were not met. He says there was no halt to the Syrian government's use of heavy weapons and no significant reduction in violence.

In a letter to the council last Friday, Ban said Syria now risks "a descent into a full-scale civil war."

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