The United Nations program to monitor violence in Syria has been suspended because of rising violence, the organization has said.
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), said that the nature of the conflict posed significant risks to his unarmed observers.
A team from the UNSMIS was surrounded by militia and fired upon when it attempted to enter the western city of Haffa on Tuesday. They returned on Friday, but in a statement said that the town reeked of dead bodies.
“Violence, over the past 10 days, has been intensifying, again willingly by the both parties, with losses on both sides and significant risks to our observers,” said Maj. Gen. Mood, in a statement.
“The Syrian population, civilians, are suffering and in some locations, civilians have been trapped by ongoing operations.
“The mission established itself as the factual voice on the ground, to ensure that the pain and the suffering of the Syrian people is recognized and addressed.
“But the escalating violence is now limiting our ability to observe, verify, report, as well as assist in local dialogue, and stability projects.”
The United Nations has 298 military observers and 112 civilians who are in Syria to oversee the introduction of a six-point peace plan, negotiated by the U.N. and the Arab League.
Maj. Gen. Mood said that the suspension would be reviewed daily. He is expected to report to the U.N. Security Council Monday or Tuesday, Reuters reported.
The U.N. estimates that 10,000 civilians have been killed since violence erupted in Syria 14 months ago.
On Saturday, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called for intervention from the U.N. in regard to the bombardment of Homs.
“More than 1,000 families, many of them women and children, are stranded in the constantly shelled area; they need to be evacuated from the line of fire immediately,” the statement said.
A spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry described the recent violence in Homs as intolerable.
“Sooner or later, the Security Council will have to reckon with the consequences,” the spokesperson told Reuters.
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