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Swiss to send military observers to Syria

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14:43 CEST+02:00

Switzerland said on Wednesday it will send unarmed military observers to join an advance team of the Syrian observer mission following a request by the United Nations.

Bern will send up to six members of its armed forces who are already in service as part of the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in the Middle East, the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs said.

"Switzerland wants to contribute to the UN's intervention with the deployment of unarmed military observers," it said in a statement.

The Federal Council took the decision not only out of humanitarian consideration, "but because Switzerland has an interest from the economic, security and migration policy perspectives that Syria and the whole region can find lasting stability as quickly as possible."

An eight-strong advance team arrived in Damascus on Sunday to prepare for an observer mission agreed with international envoy Kofi Annan as part of his blueprint for ending 13 months of bloodshed.

To protest the violence in Syria the Swiss ambassador in Damascus was recalled to Bern in August last year and its embassy was closed at the end of February.

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