August 17, 2012 - 13:30 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Syrian forces shelled the northern battleground of Aleppo and fierce fighting was reported in Damascus on Friday, August 17 a day after the United Nations called time on its observer mission, AFP reported.
The country was also bracing for demonstrations after weekly prayers, events that have often triggered violence during an increasingly barbaric conflict that is now in its 18th month and shows no signs of abating.
The UN announced its decision on Thursday, with the international community still deeply at odds over how to end the bloodshed and also deal with the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"The conditions to continue UNSMIS were not fulfilled," France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud said, referring to the mission whose mandate is due to end at midnight Sunday.
Russia has called a meeting in New York Friday of UN ambassadors from the so-called Geneva action group on Syria but it was not clear whether Western powers, still angry at Moscow and Beijing for their vetoes of the UN resolutions, would attend.
The observer mission is ending less than three weeks after Kofi Annan quit as envoy for Syria, complaining that divisions among world powers and the increasing militarization of the conflict had hindered his peace plan.
More than 23,000 people have died since the revolt against Assad's iron-fisted rule broke out in March 2011, according to activists, while the UN puts the toll at around 17,000.