UN: No Additional Monitors in Syria
The United Nations announced Saturday that it won't send additional monitors to Syria; the international body decided to suspend the mission, saying it's just too dangerous.
The observer teams who have already been planted in the civil war-torn country have hunkered down, unable to conduct patrols.
The decision was made primarily to protect the monitors, who travel around Syria unarmed and have been repeatedly attacked by government forces. As a result, the teams are unable to fulfill their mandate to verify events on the ground, other than to confirm the incessant violence carried out by those who attack them.
Most recently, the monitors were driven away from the village of Al Heffa, which was under assault for nearly a week by the government forces, until all its residents fled as well.
Part of the problem has been the intransigence of Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Russia has continued to arm the Syrian government forces against the pleas of fellow Arab and European U.N. members to support a campaign to end the violence.
As a result, it is largely unclear whether the monitors themselves are also being targeted by the Syrian government forces and their loyalists.
On Saturday, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked towns and villages around Damascus, murdering dozens of civilians, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Government troops conducted sweeps in which groups of young men were arrested.
U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement Saturday via the White House spokesman calling on Assad to uphold commitments made in the past several months – all of which he has broken and/or ignored.
"We are consulting with our international partners regarding next steps toward a Syrian-led political transition,” the White House statement continued,” and “the sooner this transition takes place, the greater the chance of averting a lengthy and bloody civil war.”
France announced last week, meanwhile, that its government is considering providing communications equipment to the opposition forces in order to strengthen their efforts without supplying arms.