The United Nations Security Council will end the military observer mission in Syria this weekend . . . it will replace the 300 observers with a small liaison office of military advisers and political, human rights and civil affair experts . . . Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi confirmed he will accept the role of international mediator on Syria, replacing Kofi Annan . . . Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin invited UN ambassadors to a meeting at UN headquarters today to formulate an action plan related to Syria . . . Churkin says he wants the UN, Iran and Saudi Arabia to appeal to all parties in the Syrian conflict to end violence . . . activists are reporting renewed shelling in Aleppo, Homs and Idlib . . . human rights monitors say government jets killed at least 40 people in Azaz near the Turkish border and destroyed more than 64 homes . . . there is still little sign of a break in the Syrian stalemate, with both sides intent on a military victory . . . the international community also remains hamstrung in dealing with Syria, with Russia refusing to back sanctions or other direct intervention despite rhetoric supporting an end to the violence.