Violence escalates as observers leave Syria

Syrian troops backed by tanks have reportedly launched an offensive on the outskirts of Damascus, in order to regain control of the area. Activists say over 60 people have been killed – just over a day after the Arab's League mission was frozen.

­Officials in Moscow said that the decision to halt the mission was going to inflame an already volatile situation in Syria. Obviously this is exactly what is happening there right now.

On his visit to Brunei, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday he could not understand why such a useful tool as the observer mission was not used to its full.

“We would like to know why they are treating such a useful instrument in this way," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

The observer mission stuttered and virtually ground to a halt. It has never recovered after last week’s decision when the Gulf States, rather than making it stronger and more effective, chose to pull out from the mission. They made this decision, they said, because they felt the mission had failed to hold the Syrian government to its pledge to end the violence.

The move by some members of the Arab League looks particularly surprising because it occurred at exactly the same time as the decision was made to extend the observer mission in Syria.

“We are surprised that after a decision was taken on prolonging the observers' mission for another month, some countries, particularly Persian Gulf countries, recalled their observers from the mission," Sergey Lavrov pointed out.

The Arab League is to brief the UN on Tuesday on their findings. Moscow claims it is not yet familiar with the contents of the report but would not support any plan that would potentially or directly leave the door open for foreign military intervention. On top of that, Moscow has called the Western stance – which basically states that it is impossible to hold dialogue with the Assad regime – irresponsible and unforgivable, while pointing out that the Arab League’s mission was the one opportunity to pursue a resolution through dialogue.

The conflict in Syria, meanwhile, is creeping towards the country’s capital. People around Damascus woke up to the sounds of gunfire in the suburbs.