Chief of UN Observers Leaves Syria

Saturday, 25 August 2012 05:21 AM

BEIRUT — The head of a team of United Nations observers tasked to monitor a cease-fire in Syria that failed has left Damascus.

Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye gave no statement before leaving the Syrian capital for neighboring Lebanon Saturday.

The mission ended last Sunday but Gaye stayed for meetings.

The U.N. Security Council has agreed to back a small new liaison office to support future peace efforts.

The observers' deployment in April was one of the only concrete achievements in Special Envoy Kofi Annan's attempts to halt the country's escalating civil war. The observers had intended to supervise a truce that never took hold.

Annan abandoned the job earlier this month and was replaced by veteran Algerian diplomat and former U.N. envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi.

Syrian troops forced rebels to abandon a battered Damascus suburb on Friday, Reuters reported, in the latest battle of the intensifying civil war that the U.N. refugee agency said had prompted more than 200,000 people to flee the country.

Hundreds of soldiers and dozens of tanks and armored vehicles pushed into the center of Daraya after a small group of defenders withdrew, opposition activists told Reuters. President Bashar al-Assad's forces had subjected the Sunni Muslim township to a three-day bombardment from artillery, tanks, mortars, rockets and helicopter gunships in which at least 70 people were killed, 21 of them on Friday they said.

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Saturday, 25 August 2012 05:21 AM
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