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Syria: UN mission chief says monitors were 'targets'

The Security Council hears that United Nations observers were repeatedly targeted by hostile crowds and close-range gunfire.

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General Robert Mood of Norway said Saturday that UNSMIS observers would halt their patrols and remain at their current locations, although he promised that the suspension would be reviewed on a daily basis and stressed that the mission remained committed to bringing an end to the violence in Syria. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

The chief of the United Nations observer mission to Syria has told the Security Council that his team were repeatedly targeted by hostile crowds and close-range gunfire, Reuters reported.

According to diplomats who attended the closed-door meeting, Major General Robert Mood said the mission of 300 unarmed monitors was directly fired upon, and at least nine of its vehicles were struck or damaged in the week before he suspended the mission, on June 16.

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In addition to being targets, Mood said that his team was threatened each day by incidences of "indirect gunfire," just 300 to 400 yards away.

However the BBC reported that the withdrawal of monitors did not mean the mission, dubbed UNSMIS, was abandoning the Syrian people.

Its 90-day mandate expires on July 20, and given the suspension – owing to what Mood called an escalation in violence that prevented his team from doing its job, and put its members in danger – it is unclear if the Security Council will extend it.

Opposition forces on Wednesday accused Syrian government troops of “fiercely bombarding” several towns – including Rastan, in the central Homs province, and suburbs of the capital, Damascus, the BBC reported.

The UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has said that despite the violence, the UN remained committed to a peace plan proposed by the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan – adding that there was “no plan B.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120620/un-mission-syria-targets