UN Mission to Syria Suspended

Posted June 16th, 2012 at 9:25 am (UTC-5)
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Escalating violence is forcing United Nations observers to suspend their mission in Syria “until further notice.”

The head of the U.N. observer force announced the decision in a statement Saturday. Major General Robert Mood said observer teams would not go out on patrol or take part in other activities due to the increase in violence over the last 10 days.

Mood also said the decision to suspend the mission would be reviewed on a daily basis.

The U.N. has sent nearly 300 unarmed observers to Syria to monitor the implementation of a cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition forces. That cease-fire never took hold.

Mood warned Friday that conditions on the ground in Syria were “becoming increasingly risky,” blaming the intensifying violence on both sides. He said the mission's future was in the hands of the U.N. Security Council.

The Syrian government continued its offensive against rebel-held areas Friday. Fierce fighting was reported throughout Aleppo province and the central city of Homs. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA that security forces were also shelling opposition areas and clashing with rebels in Douma and Damascus.

Meanwhile, Russia has hardened its position against Western pressure to topple embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In Moscow Friday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia does “not get involved in overthrowing regimes – neither through approval of unilateral actions by the U.N. Security Council nor by participation in any political plots.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland suggested Thursday that Washington and Moscow were discussing a post-Assad strategy in Syria.

Russia, along with China, has vetoed two U.N. Security Council resolutions against Mr. Assad and has vowed to oppose any military intervention.

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