UN suspends patrols in Syria; West mulls next step

Major General Robert Mood announced that he has decided to suspend the patrols of his 300-member team, citing spiralling violence.

Damascus: The suspension of UN observers` patrols in Syria on Saturday shortly ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Mexico triggered superpowers` preparation for "next steps toward a Syrian-led political transition" without shunning aside military options.

Major General Robert Mood, head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), announced on Saturday that he has decided to suspend the patrols of his 300-member team, citing spiralling violence in restive areas.

The observers have been deployed in Syria since April 20, a week after the six-point plan sponsored by the UN special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan went into effect, and their deployment was believed to be the only workable item of the plan to end the violence in Syria.

Mood accused both the government and the opposition of lacking the real will to push for a political settlement.

Syria has said that violence has been remarkably stepped up since the arrival of the observers, with at least five huge bombings taking place in different parts of the country since then.

The Syrian government and the opposition traded accusations, blaming each other for hindering the UN job and the mounting violence.

Immediately after the observers` decision to suspend their patrols, Washington said it`s studying the next measures it would undertake to deal with the Syrian crisis without shunning aside the military option.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for US National Security Council, said his country is now working with allies "regarding next steps toward a Syrian-led political transition" without the Syrian President.

"The sooner this transition takes place, the greater the chance of averting a lengthy and bloody sectarian civil war," he said.

The UN Security Council`s five permanent members will also consider the next steps for the observer mission after Mood briefs them on the situation in Syria on Tuesday.

Observers believe that no major step would be taken until after the G20 summit amid reports that the recent violence in Syria will be at its top agenda as world powers try to overcome pro- Syrian government Russia`s stances.

Al-Thawra, a local newspaper in Syria, said on Sunday that no one could "exonerate the US statements that have come in parallel with the temporary suspension of the UN mission”.

What has further sustained the belief that the US and its allies are pushing for militarisation are recent reports that around 6,000 people, including Arabs, Afghans and Turks, have been recruited and trained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to commit "terrorist" acts in Syria.

Syria reports daily killing and detention of tens of alleged terrorists from different nationalities. A day earlier, it announced the murder to a prominent terrorist, Walid al-Ayyesh, whom it said had supervised the packing of all cars that were exploded in Damascus over the past months.