World Bulletin / News Desk
Major General Robert Mood left his hotel in Damascus on Thursday to fly to Geneva after a 90-day U.N. peace monitoring mission to Syria ended, even as battles between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels raged in parts of the capital.
The observers' mandate ends on Friday, but the United Nations' 15-nation Security Council is set to decide later on Thursday whether it should be extended for 45 days.
"I leave satisfied that I, and some 400 brave women and men, have done our best, under very challenging circumstances," Mood, who led the U.N. mission, told a news conference in the Dama Rose hotel.
"For the sake of the Syrian people we need effective leadership from the Security Council and genuine unity around a political plan that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and that is accepted by the Parties," Mood said.
"Government and opposition must be willing to make the necessary concessions and sit at the negotiating table," he added, saying there was no hope for the crisis to be resolved through fighting.
Separately, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he was alarmed by the intensifying violence in Syria, saying he strongly condemned the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday that killed the Syrian defence minister and President Assad's brother-in-law.
Mood's farewell speech came as the U.N. Security Council was preparing to vote later on Thursday on a Western-backed resolution that threatens Syrian authorities with sanctions and is aimed at ending the 16-month conflict.
Russia, a key ally of Syria, has refused to engage in negotiations on the resolution that would extend the U.N. observer mission in Syria for 45 days and place envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, diplomats say.
U.N. monitors, who have been unable to halt the violence, suspended patrols in June after repeated attacks on convoys.
Both Moscow and Kiev have accused the other of shooting across the border, and Ukraine says missiles shot from Russia may have downed two of its fighter jets this week
"The federal government has requisitioned the services of the Pakistan army in aid of civil power in Islamabad," the prime minister's office said
Clashes were also reported in Jerusalem after Israeli authorities barred Muslims from performing Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Police said the bomb was left in a vehicle about 50 metres from a hotel in the town of Betong, which is popular with tourists from nearby Malaysia
At least 3 hae been confirmed dead, 10 rescued and 8 missing after an overloaded vessel carrying illegal Indonesian workers capsized.
Israeli air force dropped about 3,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip in the first 15 days of the conflict, including 120 tons in the border town of Shejaia alone
Banned substances include gasoline and firecrackers, but also drinking water, cooking oil and yogurt.
Abbott said that Russian-backed rebels who control the area were tampering with evidence on "an industrial scale" and argued that outside police or possibly military forces were needed to ensure that did not continue.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said leaders should show flexibility so that political deadlocks could be broken and Iraq could confront militants.
State media said "millions" of people joined the rallies nationwide, which were called to mark Iran's annual day of solidarity with Palestinians.
At least three women and a three-year-old child were among those killed.
Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades was enraged when Turkish Cypriot president Dervis Eroglu refused to accept certain proposed terms, raising his voice, slamming his fist and throwing his glasses across the room in anger.
Jordanian government spokesman said the "aerial target was shot after being intercepted" when it violated Jordanian air space near the northern border city of Mafraq.
U.N. health agency said that four hospitals, including al Aqsa hospital in the coastal strip, had been damaged in the conflict that began on July 8 when Israel launched air strikes
Yatseniuk, Ukraine's point man for the West during much of the turmoil in the country since November, tendered his resignation on Thursday, saying parliament was betraying its people's demands
Brazil called the escalation of violence "unacceptable" and recalled its ambassador for consultations.