UN Calls Off Syria Observer Mission
As Human Rights Watch reports new massacre
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2012 12:26 PM CDT
Syrian soldiers investigate the scene after a bomb attached to a fuel truck exploded outside a Damascus hotel where U.N. observers are staying in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 15, 2012.   (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)

(Newser) – The UN will allow its observer mission in Syria to expire Sunday, even as reports of extreme violence continue to pour in. A government airstrike on a rebel-held town killed more than 40 people and injured at least 100 more, Human Rights Watch reported today, and that wasn't the half of it. The opposition's Local Coordination Committees estimate there were at least 158 deaths today, including 50 in Aleppo, CNN reports.

The UN Security Council intends to replace the observer mission with a new civilian office originally proposed by Ban Ki-moon, French Ambassador Gerar Araud tells the AP, explaining that the observer mission could not be extended because it hadn't even come close to meeting goals like halting the regime's use of heavy weapons. In other Syria news: A powerful Shiite group in Lebanon says it's abducting Syrians in retaliation for rebels allegedly seizing a family member, raising the specter of the violence spilling into Lebanon.