Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has used chemical warfare in
order to ease its entrance into Homs, said Awad Al-Razak, an officer who
defected from the Syrian armed forces.
Al-Razak, who served in
the chemical warfare department of the Syrian military, told the
Al-Arabiya network that the government used nerve gas under the
supervision of Russian and Iranian scientists, and intends to do so
again in other parts of the country.
On Monday, UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that the failure of the
United Nations Security Council to reach an agreement on a resolution
against the ongoing violence in Syria has emboldened the Syrian
government in its deadly crackdown on opposition activists.
and China on Feb. 4 vetoed a European-Arab drafted resolution
condemning the Syrian government's suppression of anti-government
demonstrations and endorsing an Arab League plan for Assad to step
Pillay's speech to the 193-nation assembly came after
Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, backed by delegates from Iran and
North Korea, tried unsuccessfully to block her from addressing UN
delegations by citing procedural arguments.
extensively about what she called an assault on the restive city of
Homs, where she said the Syria army had targeted civilians using "tanks,
mortars, rockets and artillery."
The humanitarian situation in
Homs is "deplorable," she said, adding that "food remains scarce," and
electricity is often cut off to the city's over 800,000 residents.
said that the Syrian military was carrying out indiscriminate attacks
on civilian neighborhoods, and that residents have been "effectively
trapped in areas under attack."
The "civilian army has shelled
densely populated neighborhoods in Homs,"' she said. More than 300
people have been killed in the western Syrian city since the beginning
of the 10-day assault, according to Pillay.
"The majority of them were victims of the shelling," she said.
said that at least 400 children have been killed since last March, when
mass protests in the southern Syrian city of Daraa - akin to those that
sprung so-called Arab Spring revolutions in countries like Egypt and
Tunisia - caused a similar eruption in Syria.
She said Assad's forces have used schools as "detention facilities, sniper posts and military bases."
Detained children have been subjected to solitary confinement, and are often put in cells with adults, she said.
across Syria have been blockaded, blocking access to water, food and
medical supplies, according to the UN human rights rapporteur.
failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action
appears to have emboldened the Syrian government to launch an all-out
assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force," Pillay
told the General Assembly.
Clinton meets Turkish FM on Syria
Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with visiting Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the Syrian unrest. During
their meeting, Clinton stated that the United States backs the Arab
League's latest plan on Assad, but sees challenges in winning UN
approval for peacekeepers to halt the Syrian government's violent
crackdown on protests.
Clinton added the US would work to tighten
international sanctions on the government of Syrian President Bashar
Assad and seek ways to deliver humanitarian aid amid what she said was a
"deplorable" escalation of violence by government forces.
have heard the call of the Syrian people for help and we are committed
to working to allow the entry of medical supplies, of emergency help to
reach those who are wounded and dying," Clinton said.
suggested that the Arab peacekeeper proposal would be tough to get
through given Russian and Chinese support for Damascus.
are a lot of challenges to be discussed as to how to put into effect all
of their recommendations and certainly the peacekeeping request is one
that will take agreement and consensus," Clinton said.
"We don't know that it is going to be possible to persuade Syria. They have already, as of today, rejected that."
whose country has been at the forefront of those calling for action
against the Assad government, said the international community needed to
look at all options as the crisis unfolds.
"We cannot be silent when these humanitarian tragedies continue," Davutoglu said.