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UN Condemns Syria as Violence Rages On

The UN condemned Syria’s violent crackdown on protesters. Meanwhile, Assad’s forces continued to massacre citizens in Hama.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/4/2011, 4:13 AM

The UN Security Council condemned on Wednesday the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on anti-regime protesters. The condemnation came after months of difficulties in achieving an agreement between the members.

The council said in a statement it “condemns the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.

“The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria, and expresses profound regret at the death of many hundreds of people. The Security Council calls for an immediate end to all violence and urges all sides to act with utmost restraint, and to refrain from reprisals, including attacks against state institutions.”

The statement said that those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.

The BBC reported that the statement was less than what the European states on the council would have liked, but is more than might have been expected given the strong opposition to saying anything on Syria from members such as Russia, China, and India.

Lebanon did not block adoption of the statement but disassociated itself from the text after it was adopted, the BBC said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad had “lost all humanity,” noted that the Security Council’s statement represented “the clear message of the international community” to Assad.

“The world has watched the deteriorating situation in Syria with the most profound concern,” Ban was quoted by the BBC as having said. “But the events of the past few days have been brutally shocking. Just continuing like this is not sustainable. He cannot and they cannot carry on like this, killing their people.”

A surprising condemnation came from Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Arinc Bulent, who issued the strongest condemnation yet of the Syrian president by a Turkish leader.

“I’m saying this on my behalf, what’s going on in Hama today is an atrocity,” Bulent was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Whoever carries this out can’t be our friend. They are making a big mistake.”

UN Condemns, Violence Continues
As the Security Council prepared its condemnation statement, Syrian tanks occupied the main square in central Hama on Wednesday.

The military crackdown in Hama has been ongoing since Sunday, and human rights campaigners told Reuters that more than 90 people have been killed so far in the city.

One resident told Reuters using a satellite phone, “All communications have been cut off. The regime is using the media focus on the Hosni Mubarak trial to finish off Hama.”

The resident said tanks and military units, including paratroopers and special forces, were seen moving to the central Orontes Square from the south. Others reported that residents who tried to flee were randomly shot by militants.

Meanwhile, Syria has expelled most of the independent media, something which has made it difficult to verify any testimonies from activists and authorities.

Authorities claimed on state television that the army entered Hama to confront gunmen who were intimidating residents. To prove this, footage was shown of armed men in civilian clothes who authorities said had attacked security forces and government buildings in the city.