Arab League suspends Syria mission as violence rages

The Arab League suspended its monitoring mission in Syria on Saturday due to deteriorating conditions in the country, as state security forces battled rebels holding three suburbs just outside the capital Damascus.
The decision comes days after the Arab League called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, following 10 months of revolt against his rule. It will take an Arab peace plan to the U.N. Security Council next week.
“Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence … it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League’s mission to Syria pending presentation of the issue to the league’s council,” Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said in a statement.
Arab League foreign ministers are expected to discuss early next month the possibility of withdrawing monitors completely, a League official said, but added that the secretary general could pull monitors out at any time if necessary.
A Syrian official said the government could not yet comment.
The Arab League’s job was to observe implementation of its peace plan. Though its mandate was extended for a second month, critics lambasted the mission for its failure to stem bloodshed. It was further undermined when Gulf states withdrew their monitors last week, saying the team could not stop the violence.