U.N. observer mission in Syria ends, violence continues

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NEW YORK. August 20. KAZINFORM The mandate of the U.N. observer mission in Syria ended Sunday, with the country no closer to a lasting peace than when monitors arrived four months ago, CNN reported.

Even after the 300 observers leave, the United Nations will maintain a presence in the war-torn country in the form of a new liaison office supporting "efforts for a political solution."

"We will continue the search to move from violence to dialogue," said the mission's leader, Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye of Senegal.

The U.N. monitoring mission itself clearly did not go as hoped. International observers first arrived in Syria in April, on the heels of a cease-fire ostensibly agreed upon by the government and rebels. But the cease-fire never took hold, and violence soon surged.

Over the past month, opposition activists have reported upward of 150 deaths a day. That violence continued Sunday, when much of the country was celebrating Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of fasting during Ramadan, Islam's holiest month.

At least 170 people were killed Sunday throughout the nation, the opposition Local Coordination Committees reported.

This figure includes 51 killed in the province of Daraa, among them 20 new charred bodies discovered in Hirak and a boy and his mother killed by "fierce shelling" in Daraa al-Balad. Government forces "executed" 14 people in that province hours after they were detained, the LCC said.

The same group reported another 51 deaths in and around Damascus, among them a number of people killed by "indiscriminate mortar shelling" in Theyabeih. As dusk settled in Sunday, residents of another Damascus suburb, Housh Arab, were in the dark because of similar shelling, the LCC said.

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