“This escalation is limiting our ability to observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue and stability projects – basically impeding our ability to carry out our mandate,” General Robert Mood, head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), said in a statement.
“The lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful transition, and the push towards advancing military positions is increasing the losses on both sides: innocent civilians, men women and children are being killed every day. It is also posing significant risks to our observers,” he added.
The Security Council established UNSMIS in April to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitor and support the full implementation of a six-point peace plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan.
Gen. Mood said UN observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice, and that engagement with the parties will be restricted.
“This suspension will be reviewed on a daily basis. Operations will resume when we see the situation fit for us to carry out our mandated activities.”
He reiterated that UNSMIS stands ready to work with all parties to assist in bringing an end to the violence and promote political dialogue.
However, hundreds of people have been killed since the first observers were deployed in April and the mission has been harshly criticised by the opposition.
Syria’s foreign ministry said Mood had informed the government of the decision to temporarily reduce the work of the monitors, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported on Saturday.
“The ministry understands the decisions taken by General Robert Mood, particularly those related to preserving the safety of observers,” SANA’s report said.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago while activists put the number at more than 14000.