The UN Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session on
Monday on the escalating violence in Syria after 24 countries including
four Arab members - Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - backed the
European Union initiative, a UN statement said.
The announcement came shortly after Syrian President Bashar Assad told UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that military and police operations against
pro-democracy protesters had stopped, the United Nations said on
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In a phone call with Assad on Wednesday, Ban "expressed alarm
at the latest reports of continued widespread violations of human rights and
excessive use of force by Syrian security forces against civilians across Syria,
including in the Al Ramel district of Latakia, home to several thousands of
Palestinian refugees," the United Nations said in a statement.
Secretary-General emphasized that all military operations and mass arrests must
cease immediately. President Assad said that the military and police operations
had stopped," the statement added.
Residents of the besieged port city of
Latakia said on Wednesday that Syrian forces raided houses in a Sunni district,
arresting hundreds of people and taking them to a stadium after a four-day tank
assault to crush protests against al-Assad.
The UN statement said Ban repeated his
calls for an independent investigation into all reported killings and acts of
violence, and for free access by the media.
It added the UN chief
called on Damascus to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights.
"The Secretary-General also urged president Assad to
engage in a credible and peaceful process of reform towards comprehensive
change," the statement said.
Assad enumerated the reforms he will
undertake in the next few months, including revision of the Constitution and the
holding of parliamentary elections, the statement said.
Secretary-General emphasized the need for reforms to be implemented swiftly
without further military intervention," it said Ban said a UN humanitarian
assessment team, which the Syrian Government had agreed to receive, should be
given independent and unhindered access to all areas affected by violence. Assad
said the team would have access to different sites in Syria, according to the
The UN human rights chief is expected to suggest that the
Security Council refer Syria's crackdown on protesters to the International
Criminal Court, envoys said on Wednesday.
UN human rights chief Navi
Pillay will address the 15-nation council in a closed-door session on Syria on
Thursday, along with UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.