United Nations observers will stay in Syria for another 30 days after a unanimous vote at the Security Council, just hours before the current mandate expired.
But the new resolution states the mission will only be extended further “in the event of the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient by all sides”.
The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, has already expressed her doubts that this will happen.
The 300 unarmed military observers were sent to monitor the implementation of a peace plan that was brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan’s but has never actually taken hold.
Now UN chief Ban Ki-moon has recommended shifting the emphasis of the UNSMIS mission from monitoring the nonexistent ceasefire to pursuing a political solution to the crisis – a shift that could see half the team leave almost immediately.