UN chief fears executions, torture in Syria

"Images we've seen in Syria are atrocious," Ban Ki-moon says; Syria UN envoy: Ban's remarks have "extremely virulent rhetoric."

By REUTERS
March 2, 2012 23:42
1 minute read.
Demonstrations against Syria's President Bashar

Syrian flag 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday expressed concern about "grisly reports" that Syrian government forces were arbitrarily executing, imprisoning and torturing people in the battle-scarred city of Homs, allegations Damascus sharply rejected.

"The Syrian government has failed to deliver on its responsibility to protect its people," Ban told the 193-nation UN General Assembly. "Civilian populations are under military assault in several cities."

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"A major assault on Homs took place yesterday," he said. "Civilian losses have clearly been heavy. We continue to receive grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture."

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari took to the podium to respond to Ban, telling the assembly that Ban's remarks included "extremely virulent rhetoric which confines itself to slandering a government based on reports, opinions or hearsay."

Ja'afari said the false allegations "come from the opposition or from people who are abroad or people who are living in countries which are open enemies of Syria."

"The secretary-general is not duly informed," he added, reiterating that the Syrian opposition consisted of "armed terrorist groups."

Earlier on Friday Ban made an impassioned plea for Damascus to grant immediate access for aid workers to besieged Syrian towns, describing the images of death coming out of the country as atrocious.

Ban was speaking to reporters after the International Committee of the Red Cross told Syria it was unacceptable that its aid convoy had been prevented from entering a battle-scarred district of Homs where the opposition said President Bashar Assad's army had committed a massacre.

"The images which we have seen in Syria (are) atrocious," Ban told reporters. "It's totally unacceptable, intolerable. How as a human being can you bear ... this situation? That really troubles me. I'm deeply sad seeing what's happening."

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