The Arab League has suspended its monitoring mission in Syria because of an escalation of violence, it said on Saturday.

Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence ... it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League's mission to Syria pending presentation of the issue to the league's council, the league's secretary-general said in a statement.

The secretary-general has also asked the head of the mission to take all the necessary procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of the mission's members.

The mission would remain in Syria, a source at the league had earlier told Reuters, but would temporarily halt its work.

The Arab League and Western countries are pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, where the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad which began in March.

The U.N. Security Council discussed a draft European-Arab resolution on Friday aimed at halting the bloodshed. Russia, which joined China in vetoing a previous resolution in October, said the draft was unacceptable in its present form, but said it was willing to engage on it.

A date for the meeting of the league's council on Syria had not yet been set, a delegate at the league said.

(Reporting by Ayman Samir; Writing by Shaimaa Fayed; Editing by Janet Lawrence)