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Syria: Violence increases, UN mission still suspended

The situation in Syria has become too dangerous for the 300 UN observers, with a dozen or so armed attacks just in the last week. This was the comment by the Head of the UN Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), General Robert Mood of Norway, who underscored that, rather than diminishing, the violence “is increasing”. Two home-made bombs today exploded at the passing of a convoy of three cars escorting ANSA news agency reporterClaudio Accogli to Daraa, 100 km south of Damascus. The first car was hit in the explosion, which killed one police officer and wounded three others. Accogli was not hurt and there was little damage to his vehicle.

Firm protest with the Syrian authorities

Minister Giulio Terzi called ANSA President Giulio Anselmi to express the solidarity of the government “for a vile attack made all the more serious for its having been directed against those working courageously on the ground to tell the story of the Syrian people’s tragedy”. Terzi urged that the European Union Delegation in Damascus lodge a “firm protest with the Syrian authorities”.

UN observers mission suspended

The UN observers’ ability to carry out their mandate is reduced to practically nil in such a situation. “We are in Syria to address a situation that cannot be resolved by force”, General Mood. “The Annan plan remains the point of reference for resolving this crisis, but the conditions on the ground are such that the observers mission has had to be suspended”, asserted the head of UN peacekeeping operations Herve Ladsous. The work of the observers has led to some positive results, but not at the present moment, as a result of the escalating violence. “Nevertheless”, he continued, “we have decided not t to change the mandate until its three-months are up, which is on 20 July. Now we have to think about what the next steps will be”.