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UN suspends mission in Syria

The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) [official website] suspended its mission to supervise the implementation of a peace plan in the country on Saturday. Major General Robert Mood, head of the UNSMIS mission, blamed the group's exit from Syria [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on "an escalation in fighting and of the risk to his 300-strong team, as well as the 'lack of willingness' for peace by the warring parties." UNSMIS observers were in the country on a mission to supervise the end of military fighting, maintain communications with and free movement of UN mission officers in the country, allow access for humanitarian aid, release individuals detained without reason, provide protection to journalists and uphold the right to peaceful demonstration.

The UN observers have been the target of violence [AFP report] since they arrived in the country in April following the unanimous approval of a resolution [JURIST report] to send 300 unarmed soldiers and other civilian aid to Syria by the UN Security Council [official website]. Last week, UN Special Rapporteurs reported an escalation in violence [JURIST report] against peaceful protesters, journalists and human rights defenders.

The international community has continued to call for end to the violence in Syria. In early April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report claiming the Syrian government has executed more than 100 civilians [JURIST report] and opposition fighters during recent attacks. Also in April, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] reaffirmed his call for an end to the violence and condemned attacks [JURIST report] by pro-government troops against civilians. In March, the UN Human Rights Council [official website] passed a non-binding resolution [JURIST report] condemning Syrian authorities for ongoing bloodshed and violations of human rights. This official condemnation from the rights body came after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] demanded a cease-fire [JURIST report] in late February.

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