Syria: UN observers chief urges both sides of conflict to drop 'mindset of military logic'

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
General Babacar Gaye addressing media persons in Damascus
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Damascus, Syria:  The head of the UN observer mission in Syria appealed to both sides of the conflict to drop their "mindset of military logic" and prioritize the needs of civilians.

Speaking to reporters in Damascus, General Babacar Gaye said violence was increasing in many parts of Syria, with the "indiscriminate use of heavy weapons by the government and targeted attacks by the opposition" inflicting a heavy toll on civilians.

Gaye, who took charge of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) last month, said he "deeply regretted" that none of the parties were putting the needs of civilians first. He called on them to respect international humanitarian law, protect civilians, and end the conflict.

Asked what in his view was the most concerning detail in the conflict, Gaye responded that the use of heavy weapons and displaced people were demonstrations of violence that should be condemned because they revealed a "mindset of a military logic". He urged the parties instead to "shift to a mindset of dialogue".

On the activities of the UN observer mission, whose mandate expires in six days and whose future is the subject of bitter controversy in the Security Council, Gaye said one hundred observers were left on the ground at the moment. The mission had reduced the number of monitors because it needed fewer people to do the type of monitoring it was currently engaged in. These remaining observers, along with civilian staff, would "operate until the last minute".

In response to a question on attacks against the media in Syria, where several journalists were killed or kidnapped over the weekend, Gaye said the United Nations was committed to press freedom in any country, and in Syria "the press has a tremendous role to play". He said "we cannot but condemn any violence against the media coming from any of the sides". - UNifeed
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