New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel will withdraw from Syria this week as the United Nations Supervision Mission (UNSMIS) ends, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman announced today.
“The UN Security Council’s mandate for the mission expired on 19 August. The UN has indicated it will have all international military observers, including all NZDF personnel, out of Syria by 23 August,” Mr McCully says.
“We acknowledge the bravery and commitment of the NZDF officers who have served in a dangerously volatile situation. Unfortunately, the worsening violence in Syria has made it impossible for the mission to carry out its mandated task.
“New Zealand was quick to provide assistance to the UN and deploy personnel to support Kofi Annan’s six point plan to end the violence and monitor a ceasefire.
“We once again urge the Security Council to display leadership and to work collaboratively to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria,” Mr McCully says.
NZDF troops have been in Syria for three months.
“Initially six personnel were deployed, although three military observers were withdrawn following the reduction by half of overall UNSMIS numbers in late July 2012,” Dr Coleman says.
“New Zealand remains committed to working closely with the international community in pursuing an end to the Syrian conflict.”