News / Middle East

Diplomats Distressed About Syrian Unrest

Several U.N. Security Council members say they are distressed by information presented at a meeting by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that the death toll from unrest in Syria has surpassed 5,000.

The U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative, Rosemary DiCarlo, said the human rights crisis in Syria is a threat to international peace and security. She said the U.N.'s estimate of the death toll in Syria has more than doubled in the past four months, and that it is "unconscionable" that the Security Council has not spoken out about the situation recently.

In October, China and Russia vetoed a draft resolution condemning the bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday it is "immoral" for Western nations to accuse Moscow of blocking the Security Council's work, while at the same time refusing to pressure what he called the "armed extremist" parts of the Syrian opposition.

Germany's ambassador to the U.N. Peter Wittig said his country echoes U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay's assessment that Syrian security forces have committed crimes against humanity this year. He added that the briefing indicates there is a "consistent pattern" of a "state policy" when it comes to the crackdown on civilians.

Britain's ambassador to the U.N. Mark Lyall Grant said it was the "most horrifying briefing" in the the Security Council over the past two years. He said the situation is deteriorating with a military buildup in Homs and tens of thousands of detentions, torturings and rapes.

All representatives expressed the need to collaborate with the Arab League in what Germany's ambassador to the U.N. called a "regional crisis of a serious magnitude.

After the briefing, Human Rights Watch issued a statement that "inaction is not an option anymore.  The rights group added that "history will judge harshly those who still choose to look the other way" during the Syrian tragedy.

WATCH:  Bashar al-Assad: ‘There Was No Command to Kill’
Journalist Barbara Walters discusses brutal crackdown of protests with Syria’s president.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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