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Kofi Annan quits role as UN's Syria envoy

As the fighting intensifies in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, rebel forces say they need strategy guidance in addition to medical supplies. Their goal, they say, is to win the war instead of simply carrying out random attacks against the Syrian army. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET: Kofi Annan blamed "finger pointing and name calling" within the U.N. Security Council among the reasons for his decision on Thursday to quit as the U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria.

AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini

Kofi Annan is stepping down as UN Arab League mediator in the 17-month-old Syria conflict at the end of the month, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Thursday.

"The world is full of crazy people like me. So don't be surprised if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can find someone who can do a better job than me," Annan said when asked if he thought someone else would be named to succeed him.

"There may be other plans, other approaches that may work quite effectively," he said, adding that at this stage the focus should still be on a political transition which means "President (Bashar) al-Assad will have to leave sooner or later."

Annan's resignation is effective Aug. 31.

Before Syrian reinforcement troops can reach Aleppo, the nation's largest city and commercial capital, they are being attacked by rebel forces in Arihah, a city situated on a key route. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Thursday that Annan deserves "profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments." He added that the search for a successor is under way.

Judo diplomacy: Putin, Cameron differ on Syria

"The hand extended to turn away from violence in favor of dialogue and diplomacy - as spelled out in the Six-Point Plan - has not been taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria," the Secretary-General's statement read.

"Kofi Annan is a very respectable person, a brilliant diplomat and a very decent man, so it's really a shame," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in London, according to Interfax. "But I hope that the international community's efforts aimed at ending the violence will continue."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Anan worked tirelessly to end Syrian bloodshed and build an "inclusive, post-Assad Syria."

"Unfortunately, the Security Council was blocked from giving him key tools to advance his efforts," she said. 


NBC News

People resisting the army of President Bashar al-Assad in northern Syria cope with loss and prepare for fighting.

Recent days have seen Syria's uprising transformed from an insurgency in remote provinces into a battle for control of the two main cities, Aleppo, and the slightly smaller capital, Damascus, where fighting exploded about two weeks ago. 

Assad's forces have launched massive counter assaults in both cities.

Palestinian camp hit
At least 20 people were killed on Thursday when Syrian security forces fired three mortar rounds at a Palestinian camp in Damascus, medical sources said.

Witnesses in the camp told Reuters by telephone that the mortars hit a busy street as people were preparing for the Ramadan meal to break their fasting.

"I saw it all, I was going to my house when the first round hit the street, people ran to check the damage when the second one hit the same area," a resident said.

"Many people were killed immediately," she said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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