The U.N. Suspends Its Monitoring Activities in Syria

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The U.N. announced they're suspending the activities of their team of monitors tasked with implementing the failing six-point peace plan in Syria on Saturday. Major General Robert Mood, the leader of the unarmed team of monitors, said the team could no longer carry out its obligations due to increasing violence in the country. "U.N. observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice," Mood said. The observers will stay in the country and the situation will be reviewed daily. The option to remove the observers if need be is kept open by Mood's "until further notice" in case the violence increases to the point the U.N. feels they need to pull the team out of the country. 

"Operations will resume when we see the situation fit for us to carry out our mandated activities," he said. "The lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful transition, and the push towards advancing military positions is increasing the losses on both sides," Mood said. "It is also posing significant risks to our observers." 

The situation in Syria has been dire recently. Beginning at the end of May, the massacre in Houla saw over 100 innocent people killed, most of them women and children. After reports of another massacre surfaced in Mazraat al-Qubeir, the U.N. monitoring team came under fire when they tried to investigate. When they finally arrived in Mazraat al-Qubeir, there was still a "strong smell of burnt flesh." Since then, fighting has continued despite Kofi Annan's pleas for both sides to stand down. It's become so bad that some have declared it a civil war.

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Most concerning, though, is this New York Times report that Syria's ordered a defensive missile system to shoot down any airplanes or ships that might come in the area. It suggests, by way of the arms exporter Bashar al-Assad paid, that Assad is digging in his heels and expecting a Western intervention. "This is not a threat, said Anatoly P. Isaykin, the owner of the company who sold the missile system, "but whoever is planning an attack should think about this." 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.