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On Syria, Guehenno Says Halt was June 15, Ban Claims June 16, Mystery

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 27, updated -- Twelve days after Inner City Press obtained and exclusively published the June 15 notice to the UN Security Council that the UN mission in Syria had limited its mobile operations as of 6 pm that day, Damascus time, the incongruities have been multiplied by further reporting and a statement in Geneva by Kofi Annan deputy Jean-Marie Guehenno.

  At 10 pm on June 15 Inner City Press published the notice. At 6 am June 16 it sent questions to Kofi Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi, then to Ban Ki-moon spokespeople.

   Fawzi answered that because of the second round (to Ban's team), he need not answer, and mission chief General Robert Mood would be making an announcement.

  Then on June 18, Inner City Press was told that Mood's Saturday announcement was the official one. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's associate spokesman Farhan Haq told Inner City Press, "I wouldn’t comment about the notice to the Security Council. The official announcement, like I said, was the one that General Mood made on Saturday."

Then Inner City Press published eye witness accounts from the Hotel Dama Rose in Damascus, that General Robert Mood in the lounge on the night of June 15 didn't say the mission had limited its mobile activities and the Mission including "the Moroccan" in fact went out on patrol on the morning on June 16.

On June 25, Ban's chief spokesman Martin Nesirky declined to explain the discrepancy:

Inner City Press: On Syria, I wanted to go, go back to this sequence of events of June, the June 15th notification of the Security Council and then June 16th announcement by, by General Mood. I have spoken to people that were at the Damaroza Hotel, and they say that, that, that as of Friday night there was no, no word among the Mission, including at the highest levels, that there was any secession of mobile activities and in fact on Saturday morning that, that patrols did go out and three cars returned with their windows smashed. So this seems to, if true, it seems to reflect that, that the notice given to the Security Council wasn’t conveyed, much less originating from General Mood and that it originated from DPKO and Mr. Ladsous. So I would like to know, I have been as.., just, I want to get a straight confirmation or denial if I can today whether UNSMIS patrols went out on Saturday and when Mr. General Robert Mood became aware of the notice to the Security Council.

Spokesperson: Thanks for the question, Matthew, and I will ask my colleagues if they have anything further on that... I think we have spoken quite clearly so far on what the sequence of events was.

Inner City Press: Right, and Mr. Mood said that he made the statement…

Spokesperson: What’s your next question; I think we are, otherwise, we go round in circles.

  But even before Inner City Press publishes the additional eye witness accounts from Damascus on June 15 and 16 it is assembling, it is NOT a circle: it is a contradiction.

  In Geneva at the Human Rights Council on June 27, Annan's deputy Guehenno told the HRC:

"On 15 June the Mission in Syria temporarily suspended its operations in light of the violence, obstacles to monitoring access, and direct targeting of its personnel and assets."

  So while in New York they repeatedly insist that the June 16 announcement was the official one, now Guehenno uses, like his successor atop DPKO, the June 15 notification. Does this, even as mis-transcribed by the UN from the June 25 noon briefing, "reflect that, that the notice given to the Security Council wasn’t conveyed, much less originating from General Mood and that it originated from DPKO and Mr. Ladsous"? Watch this site.

Update: as this went to press, Annan's spokesman said he'd invited to June 30 in Geneva  the UNSC P-5, Turkey, EU, Arab League, Iraq, Kuwait & Qatar. Wag wondered: where's Iran?

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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