Violence in Syria at 'unprecedented' levels says UN monitor chief
Up tp 3,000 people died in Syria in June, making it the bloodiest month by far in the year old uprising. Not only have the rebels stepped up attacks by President Assad's forces have also upped the brutality factor by bombing, shelling, and shooting at civilians.
Major General Robert Mood's comments Thursday came as Syrian troops battled anti-government rebels across the country and Iraq's foreign minister said Baghdad has "solid intelligence" that al-Qaida militants are crossing from Iraq into Syria to carry out attacks.
Speaking to reporters in Damascus, General Mood said the escalating violence has obstructed the monitors' "ability to observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue." He said consolidating the mission's eight bases into regional centers would improve its effectiveness, although he did not explain how that would work.
Mood said the international community had a "moral and political" responsibility towards Syria's people.
"We cannot and we will not turn our eyes and ears away from your plight, and we'll continue our work to find new paths to political dialogue and peaceful resolution to the crisis," he said.
Mood halted the U.N. monitoring team's operations on June 16 after it was the target of numerous gunfire and bomb attacks.
Violence in Syria continued Thursday as activists said government troops backed by helicopters advanced into the rebellious northern town of Khan Sheikhoun after shelling it with mortars and burning nearby settlements. Residents in the central city of Homs also reported heavy government attacks.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 27 people killed nationwide Thursday, a day after 99 people died in violence that has plagued the country for nearly 16 months. Activists say the carnage has spiked this week, as daily death tolls continue to rise. VOA cannot independently confirm the reports of casualties or violence because Syria has severely restricted access by international journalists.
Russia has flatly rejected an idea that would have granted President Assad asylum in Russia, while Assad continues to refuse to talk to the opposition. It appears that the violence will continue to escalate - as will the number of civilian casualties.