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The Mission Ends: U.N. Monitors Leave Syria
August 20, 2012
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The United Nations has pulled its observers out of Damascus after a four-month mission designed to monitor the progress of its own peace plan in the region. The international body announced on Thursday it would remove the observers, with one uniformed observer saying "our mission failed because the two sides did not abide by their commitments". According to Reuters, the observers have been little more than "helpless spectators of Syria's spiraling conflict".

U.N. observers embrace as they arrive in Damascus from Homs, preparing to leave the country
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The peace plan was proposed by Kofi Annan, the envoy to Syria. Annan resigned his position three weeks ago, complaining that divisions among world governments and the increasing militarization of the conflict made his plan unworkable.

Kids play on a street next to a building hit by a Syrian government airstrike in Aleppo
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So where does this leave Syria? According to Al-Jazeera, "experts say the end of the observers' mandate represents a serious blow to international efforts to end the conflict". U.N. estimates put the death toll in the country since the conflict began at around 17,000, and violent clashes continue. According to Reuters/Syrian Observatory, more than 130 people were killed on Sunday alone.

The human cost: Syrians look for the bodies of two girls thought to be under the rubble of a building hit in a government airstrike
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Al-Jazeera posted this report on the U.N.'s Syria pull-out and what it might mean for the country:

Another aspect of the conflict is how it's being presented in the state-run Syrian media. Salon.com says that Syria's government is winning the propaganda war:

"The Syrian government is telling its people that the bloodshed is not the result of an uprising, or even civil war, but rather entirely the outcome of conspiratorial foreign (be it US, Turkish, European, Saudi, Qatari, Israeli, Al Qaeda or others) interventions aimed at subverting Syria. The reason? Because Syria is a steadfast Arab nationalist state [...]

Analysts say that for the regime, credibility is not the key to winning the media war, but rather the ability to pass a strong, consistent message [...]

Above all, the Syrian media tries to give the impression that the army is winning the war, inflicting "awesome" losses on opponents, constantly pursuing "scattered remnants" of terrorist cells and that the military is strong."

And Lakhdar Brahimi, who is Kofi Annan's replacement as the U.N. special envoy to Syria, has been criticized by Syrian opposition groups for his refusal to say whether President Bashar al-Assad must resign. He told the BBC that he was "not in a position to say yet" but was "committed to finding a solution."

Brahimi clarified that he is "not in a position to say yet because I was only appointed a couple of days ago". When he tendered his resignation, Kofi Annan also stated "it is clear that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office."

Related stories on Strombo.com:

BY THE NUMBERS: A Statistical Snapshot Of Syria's Year Of Conflict

INFOGRAPHIC: Mapping The Death Toll In Syria

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