UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council on Thursday ordered the end of the UN observer mission in Syria, but backed calls for a political office to remain in Damascus.
"The conditions to continue UNSMIS were not fulfilled," France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud said after a council meeting on the Syria conflict.
"The mission will come to an end at midnight on Sunday," Edmond Mulet, of the UN peacekeeping department told reporters.
Earlier this year, the UN Security Council authorized sending up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor a ceasefire that UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan negotiated with President Bashar al-Assad.
But hostilities have only worsened and the UN Supervision Mission in Syria suspended its patrols on June 15.
As of Thursday the number had been cut to 101 observers and 72 civilian staff. Mulet said the last observer would leave Damascus on Friday next week.
The Security Council did back a plan by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to start a political liaison office in Damascus to monitor events.
Mulet told reporters it would probably be between 20 and 30 people with political, humanitarian and military experts taking part.
He added that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad had approved setting up the political office.