UN Syria envoy to step down next month

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura gives a press conference closing a round of peace talks at the European headquarters of the United Nations offices in Geneva, on December 14, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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UN Syria envoy to step down next month

  • “I will myself be moving on as of the last week of November,” Staffan de Mister said
  • He said he was leaving for “purely personal reasons”

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations envoy for Syria announced on Wednesday he will step down at the end of November after more than four years in the key post, setting back UN efforts to end the seven-year war in Syria
“I will myself be moving on as of the last week of November,” Staffan de Mistura told the UN Security Council during a meeting on the crisis in Syria.
The Italian-Swedish diplomat, who became the UN’s third Syria envoy in July 2014, said he was leaving for “purely personal reasons” and had discussed his plans to leave with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“I am not laying down the charge until the last hour of the last day of my mandate,” he said.
De Mistura will be traveling to Damascus next week to push for the creation of a committee to agree on a post-war constitution for Syria.
Syria is resisting the UN-led effort to set up the constitutional committee that will be comprised of government officials, opposition members and representatives of civil society.
De Mistura was appointed UN envoy for Syria in July 2014 after veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi resigned following the failure of peace talks in Geneva.
Brahimi spent two years in the position, stepping in after former UN chief Kofi Annan quit just six months into the role.
More than 360,000 people have died in the war in Syria, which began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar Assad but has since morphed into a complex war with myriad armed groups, some of which have foreign backing.


US targets Hezbollah Iraq network with new sanctions

Updated 13 min 37 sec ago
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US targets Hezbollah Iraq network with new sanctions

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury expanded its attack on Hezbollah's financial network Tuesday, hitting key representatives of the Lebanese militant group in Iraq with sanctions.
The Treasury blacklisted Shibl Muhsin 'Ubayd Al-Zaydi, Yusuf Hashim, Adnan Hussein Kawtharani, and Muhammad 'Abd-Al-Hadi Farhat under its Specially Designated Global Terrorists program, saying they moved money, acquired weapons and trained fighters in Iraq for the group.
Among the four, Al-Zaydi was a key coordinator between Hezbollah, Iran's blacklisted Revolutionary Guards, and their supporters in Iraq, the Treasury said.
He is close to alleged Hezbollah financier Adham Tabaja, and coordinated smuggling oil from Iran into Syria.
He also sent Iraqi fighters to Syria allegedly on behalf of the Revolutionary Guard, the Treasury said.
The other three were also involved in collecting intelligence and moving money for Hezbollah in Iraq, it said.
"Hezbollah is a terrorist proxy for the Iranian regime that seeks to undermine Iraqi sovereignty and destabilize the Middle East," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
"Treasury's concerted actions aim to deny Hezbollah's clandestine attempts to exploit Iraq to launder funds, procure weapons, train fighters, and collect intelligence as a proxy for Iran," Mandelker said in a statement.