UN's Ban says Assad broke pledge to halt violence

"I sincerely hope he heeds to int'l community's appeals," Ban says; Syrian forces shoot dead 3 people in Homs.

By REUTERS
August 22, 2011 19:15
2 minute read.
Ban Ki-Moon

Ban Ki-Moon 311 Reuters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday it was "troubling" that Syrian President Bashar Assad had not kept a promise to end military and police operations against protesters.

Assad had told Ban in a telephone conversation last Wednesday that the operations against the pro-democracy demonstrators, in which the United Nations says more than 2,000 people have died, had stopped. "It's troubling that he has not kept his words," Ban told reporters. "I sincerely hope that he heeds ... all (the) international community's appeals and calls."

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Syrian forces shot dead three people in Homs on Monday as crowds welcomed a UN humanitarian team, activists said, and the United Nations said the death toll from Assad's crackdown on protests had reached 2,200.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces and loyalist gunmen known as "shabiha" opened fire on hundreds of people who had taken to the streets of Homs to greet the UN team, which has been granted access to assess humanitarian needs after five months of protest and repression.

Video footage broadcast on Al Jazeera television showed a crowd of people thronging around a car, chanting "The people want the overthrow of the regime" and holding signs saying "SOS" and "We will never give up until we get our freedom".

The footage appeared to have been filmed before shots were fired and it was not immediately clear whether the UN team witnessed the incident.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay accused Syrian soldiers and security forces of using excessive force, including heavy artillery, to crush peaceful protests.



"As of today, over 2,200 people have been killed since mass protests began in mid-March, with more than 350 people reportedly killed across Syria since the beginning of Ramadan," Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council.

Syria could see parliamentary elections as early as November, Assad said Sunday, adding that the unrest sweeping the country had become more “militant,” but that he is confident it can be controlled.

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turmoil in the Middle East

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