UN Syria envoy to step down at end of November

UN Syria envoy to step down at end of November
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The United Nations's envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, plans to step down at the end of November, citing personal reasons.

De Mistura told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that he will leave his post after holding it for more than four years, according to Reuters.

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He was preceded by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, both of whom quit in frustration with the international community's inability to end the Syrian civil war.

De Mistura said he will continue to work with the U.N.'s Constitutional Committee until he departs later this year, adding that "without steps on a safe, calm and neutral environment, the work of a constitutional committee will not end up being very meaningful."

"Major strides have been taken in defeating terrorism and this should continue to be a priority," he continued. "We still have a very intense and hopefully fruitful month ahead. I am not laying down the charge until the last hour of the last day of my mandate."

The envoy has been a principal figure in the situation in Syria, which is becoming ever more complex.

Tensions ran particularly high earlier this month when Russia delivered a new missile defense system to Syria, despite U.S. warnings that it would consider the move "a significant escalation."

The situation was already heated, as Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies square off with the last major rebel stronghold, in the Idlib province.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump calls Iran claim that it arrested CIA spies 'totally false' The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Pompeo: There's 'no indication' Iran will change direction MORE warned at the end of September that the U.S. would "hold accountable those that are responsible" for the use of chemical weapons. When asked if military force would be used as a response, he responded by saying the U.S. is not ruling out "a single thing."

De Mistura said Wednesday that "a catastrophe had so far been averted in Idlib" adding that the Russian-Turkish memorandum of understanding seemed to have been implemented.

Congress passed a bill this month that would begin an examination of American policy in Syria. It would bring in outside experts to develop a strategy for Syria that would hopefully bring an end to the seven-year conflict.

-- Updated 4:05 p.m.