August 17th, 2011
01:20 PM ET

As Syria flares, some U.N.'ers take flight

The death and discord plaguing Syria hit home for the United Nations on Wednesday as the world body temporarily withdrew some staff members amid the violence there.

The United Nations is relocating 26 non-essential international staff members and their families from Syria, said Michael Williams, the U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon.

He had been concerned over the conflict in Latakia, the port city where Syrian forces kicked off an offensive this weekend.

There are normally more than 160 international U.N. staffers in Syria, with many of them based in Damascus, a spokesman said. The largest U.N. agency in Syria has been the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, with a total of 61.  The U.N. Human Rights Council is also concerned over the unrest. It plans to hold a special session Monday regarding the situation in Syria, according to Cedric Sepe, press officer at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He said member states have called for the session, in Geneva, Switzerland, and it may spill into the next day.

These moves reflect international anxiety and outrage among world powers, including the United States, and among Syria's neighbors, including Jordan and Turkey, over the crackdown.

Tunisia has recalled its ambassador to Syria for "consultations," the Tunisian news agency said Wednesday, citing an "authorized" Foreign Ministry source.

"This measure was taken as a result of the recent dangerous developments in Syria," the source reportedly said.

Last week, Saudi King Abdullah called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and recalled the Saudi ambassador from Damascus. Bahrain and Kuwait also have recalled their ambassadors from Syria and called on the Bashar al-Assad regime to end crackdowns.

While the government has maintained that it is targeting "armed groups" and "terrorists" during the country's five-month long unrest, witnesses and activists say the government has been brutally cracking down on civilians amid calls for al-Assad's ouster.

Reports of violence persisted Wednesday.

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Filed under: Syria
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Super Fly

    @ JIF: Why is it like a ghost town around here tonight ?

    August 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JIF

    There are more JIF posts here than I would ever type out.
    I have no ulcer.

    August 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JIF

    I haven't any idea why it's a ghost town.
    I'm not on meds.
    No ulcer.
    Hello.
    @ s kel, hello.
    Who is Super Fly?
    Hint? Think I know though.
    Need sleep...will be back if I can't.

    August 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fahrenheit451bookstore

    somebody send in seal team 6, 7, 8, and 9

    August 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ella

    step down with dignity bashar...before your thrown out YOURE NOT WANTED by your own people..you must be a bad ass when your own people want you out

    August 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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