The United Nations monitors in Syria have suspended operations because of increasing violence in the past 10 days.
The head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) blamed attacks by both sides in the conflict. He had already warned that the violence was putting observers at risk.
Last week, shots were fired and stones thrown at vehicles carrying monitors.
“UN observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice. Engagement with the parties will be restricted. This suspension will be reviewed on a daily basis,” the mission chief, General Robert Mood, told a news conference.
“Let me be very clear, UNSMIS remains committed to the aspirations of the people of Syria,” he added.
The move lends weight to the arguments of those who believe Kofi Annan’s peace plan is dead.
The UN says that after an initial lull in the violence, both sides had been pushing to advance military positions, trapping civilians and causing much suffering.
In Homs, activists said 1,000 families were trapped by government forces on Saturday and at least 26 people had died.
The UN says at least 10,000 people have died since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011.