The United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) [official website] will cease its work [official statement, PDF] on Sunday at midnight, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmund Mulet announced a press briefing on Thursday. According to Mulet, the mission must cease its work because the two conditions required by the UN Security Council to renew UNSMIS' mandate, the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and the reduction in violence from all sides, do not exist. In meantime, the UN will be working with the Department of Public Affairs to establish a liaison office in Damascus, Mulet said. The mission's mandate was most recently extended on July 20 for 30 days [JURIST report]. UNSMIS, approved in April, sent up to 300 unarmed military observers and other humanitarian aid [JURIST report] to supervise the implementation of a peace plan, however most of the monitoring was suspended in June due to increased risk from rising violence.
On Monday head of UNSMIS Lieutenant General Babacar Gayee expressed concern [JURIST report] about the growing number of civilian casualties in violent clashes between government forces and armed opposition groups. In July UN Chief Military Observer in Syria Major-General Robert Mood stated that Syrian authorities were committed to implementing the six-point peace agreement [JURIST reports] that was reached a week earlier. In June a UN commission stated that Syrian forces "may have been responsible" [JURIST report] for the killing of more than 100 civilians in Al-Houla in May. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [JURIST news archive] had denied [JURIST report] the allegations stating that "not even monsters" would carry out the attacks.