Assad must stop violence, Ban says after latest deaths

"I hope he takes that situation very seriously" UN chief says a day after residents said Syrian tanks stormed Deir al-Zor , killing at least 50.

By REUTERS
August 8, 2011 08:48
1 minute read.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Joshua Lott)

 
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SOMA CITY - UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday renewed his appeal to Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the violence against civilians after reports of a new military crackdown just a day earlier.

Ban, speaking to reporters in northeast Japan, said that he had delivered a strong message to Assad in a phone conversation on Saturday ahead of his report on Syria to the Security Council due on Aug. 10.

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"I hope he takes that situation very seriously and takes necessary measures respecting the will of the people," the UN Secretary General said when asked about latest signs that Assad continued to defy international pressure.

Residents of a Syrian provincial capital Deir al-Zor said government tanks stormed the city on Sunday, in the latest crackdown on five-month protests against President Bashar Assad's rule. Activists said 50 people had been killed in the attack, while the government denied the assault had taken place.

Syria has barred most journalists, making it hard to confirm events. The military assault on Deir al-Zor, about 400 kilometers north-east of Damascus, was launched a day after Ban's conversation with the Syrian president.

Ban is visiting Japan's northeast nearly five months after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake unleashed a deadly tsunami that killed more than 20,000 and triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

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