Navi Pillay 311 R.
(photo credit: Christian Hartmann / Reuters)
AMMAN - Security forces shot dead 17 people in Syria on Tuesday and
rebels killed seven police in an ambush, activists said, after the UN
human rights chief put the death toll from nine months of protest
against President Bashar Assad at 5,000.
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The latest figure reported to the UN Security
Council by Navi Pillay is 1,000 higher than the one she announced just
10 days ago. The toll includes civilians, army defectors and those
executed for refusing to shoot civilians, but not soldiers and other
security personnel killed by opposition forces, she said.
The Syrian government has said more than 1,100 members of the army, police and security services have been killed.
wave of largely peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family
rule erupted in Syria in mid-March, inspired by popular uprisings in
Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. A violent security crackdown failed to
halt the unrest, which has turned bloodier in the last few months as
defecting soldiers join armed civilians in fighting back in some areas.
flashpoint region is the central province of Homs, where an explosion
set a gas pipeline on fire on Monday, the second reported pipeline blast
in the area in a week. "The fire lit the night sky," said a resident
who gave his name as Abu Khalaf.
explosion occurred near the restive town of Rastan, the scene in late
September of one of the first battles between army defectors and
security forces. The insurgents have since opted for hit-and-run attacks
on patrols and security compounds.
Despite the spiralling
violence, the Syrian authorities held local elections on Monday as part
of what they say is a reform process, but Assad's critics described the
voting as irrelevant.
Monday was also the second day of the
opposition's "Strike for Dignity," but its success was hard to gauge in
some cities where violence has kept many residents in their homes.
the strike has found support in protest strongholds around the country,
it has not taken hold in central parts of the capital Damascus or the
business hub of Aleppo.