• foreign affairs    May 14 
The UN's Syria envoy quit amid stalemate, chemical weapon use claims
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Getty Images

The long, largely futile international effort to mediate Syria's four-year-long civil war took a few big hits on Tuesday. Most concretely, special United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi quit as official mediator between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels trying to oust him. "It's very sad that I leave this position and leave Syria behind in such a bad state," he told reporters. "Apologies once more."

France and Human Rights Watch also cast doubt on one of the few apparent successes of the international mediation efforts: The bilateral pledge to stop using chemical weapons in the fight. Human Rights Watch said in a report released Tuesday that it has strong evidence Assad's forces dropped chlorine bombs from helicopters onto at least three northern Syrian towns in April, violating its pledge. And French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there are "indications" that the Assad regime had conducted 14 chemical weapons attacks since signing the treaty.

Fabius also said he wished the U.S. had stuck Syria in August 2013, declaring, "we feel that it would have changed many things." France was willing to take part in a U.S.-led military strike, he added, but didn't want to go it alone.

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