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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soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Jazzzzzzz

    This is a horific war as all are, yet I just heard on NPR among those who have been in the cross fire was a little 2 and a half year old girl... shot dead whil her and her Family were fleeing.

    For now, all eyes are on Syria to see what will happen next. The prospect of the downfall of the Assads has vast implications for the Lebanon and the Middle East. With the removal of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, and the likely removal of Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, we could see the end of 125 years of despotic rulers in the Middle East. This has been a remarkable year for Arabs, and it’s only April.

    August 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      April? I know some places are a day ahead, but 4 months behind?

      August 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      @ Lee... I was wondering when some one was going to catch that! I didn't correct myself for that very reason. Good Job lee. I obviously had April on my mind.

      August 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Humber

    This wreckless war has to stop! The right-wing thugs have not yet ended it. Tea partiers must be very happy.

    August 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pink Panther

    Good post Humber,thank you. You said it all.

    August 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. saywhat

    @ Jazzzzzz
    rightly said. The shifting sands in the Middle East are warnings for oppressive regimes, many propped up by us.

    However would somebody pl tell me on which planet is Israel located? We see extensive coverage of the M.East. Libya & Syria are shoved down our throats everyday by CNN, narry a relevant coverage on events in that country.
    There were 4 airstrikes by Israel on Gaza yesterday and today I saw a brief ticker on CNN " 2 Palestinian injured in Israeli action" "action"? what a spin on airstrikes.
    Almost 300000 Israelis (huge number for Israel) have been demonstrating against the economic policies of their govt, camping out on streets. Thousands came out on the streets of Tel Aviv to protest policies of the regime against Palestinians & in support of two state solution. Where was the coverage by CNN & others ??

    August 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Humber

    Remake of
    THE DAY OF THE TROLLS

    August 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jazzzzzzz

    Hmmm, can't check on that now, but I'm wondering if NPR had any coverage? I'll check for myself when I get home Mama... Hug

    August 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jazzzzzzz

    Opps sorry I'm going back and forth between to threads... the comment above was meant to (saywhat)

    August 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    @saywhat:
    That would put emphasis on Israel, where the US decidedly does not want the spotlight to be.

    August 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joey Isotta-Frasoshini

    I have missed all of you. I had an ulcer. I have recovered. I am doing well. I drink soothing food. Milk, shakes, ice cream. I eat salads,bananas, and apples. No acids. Good-bye. I need to rest now as my medication makes me drowsy.

    August 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jazzzzzzzz

    Hey JIF, Hope you feel better soon... And that food seems like it would antagonize your ulcer, wouldn't it ?

    August 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I did not post that ulcer foolishness at 6:05 PM.
    I don't think that my troll tried to spell Fraschini correctly.
    I have spent some time in lawyers' offices and courtrooms changing my name.

    August 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Israelchick

    Israels funny

    Their killin each other down there

    CNN is the only place that wont report about it =)

    August 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Super Fly

    Oh, I heard the torture wasn't to get information any longer, It's purely to put FEAR into the hearts of it's people.

    August 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Israelchick

    SAVE ISRAEL!
    stop worrying for Syria it doesnt want our help!

    August 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I apologize. My ulcer medication has affected my spelling and typing. Troll of 7:18 please go away and leave my friends and me alone. Thank you for respecting my wish. I need rest and fruit. I am weak.

    August 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
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