News / Middle East

Syrian Situation Worries UN Chief

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he is alarmed at reports of excessive use of force by government security forces against citizens and continued widespread violations of human rights.

Ban spoke by telephone Wednesday with Assad, who said military and police operations had stopped.

A spokesman for the U.N. chief said Ban also continued his calls for an independent investigation into the violence, and for Syria to cooperate with the U.N.'s human rights office.

The U.N. Security Council is set to hear Thursday from U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay, who is expected to call for the Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The U.N. Human Rights Council said Thursday it will hold a special session on Monday to examine the violence in Syria, following a request from 24 of its members.  Those calling for the session included all four Arab nations on the council - Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Ban's spokesman said Assad also pledged to carry out several reforms in the coming months, including revising the country's constitution and holding parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, Western media say the White House is preparing to call for Assad to step down.  The move could come as early as Thursday, and may also include plans for new sanctions against Syria.

The United States has criticized Assad saying he has lost legitimacy, as he faces growing international pressure to end the violent crackdown against dissent.

Activists said Syrian security forces detained hundreds of people Wednesday in the besieged port city of Latakia, where at least 35 people have been killed during the past week.

The London-based Syrian rights group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 700 troops raided homes in Latakia's southern al-Raml district, arresting people on lists.

Activists also said forces loyal to Assad killed nine people in the central city of Homs, including two protesters shot dead in front of a mosque after nightly Ramadan prayers.

Latakia's al-Raml is home to a crowded Palestinian refugee camp where many low-income Syrians also live.  U.N. officials say as many as 10,000 residents fled the neighborhood during Syria's four-day operation to crush dissent in the city.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said Wednesday it has determined the whereabouts of about 2,000 of the displaced people and is providing them with aid.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday compared the situation in Syria with that in Libya, noting that Assad's government continues to kill civilians despite repeated diplomatic intervention.  Separately, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called for "the bloodshed" to stop during a joint news conference with his Jordanian counterpart.

The U.S. State Department also said Wednesday the United States is restricting the travel of Syria's ambassador to the U.S. as well as other embassy personnel.  A spokesman said the officials must get permission to travel outside the Washington metropolitan area, and that the move is in response to a similar ban on U.S. personnel enacted by Syria last month.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said it is withdrawing its non-essential personnel from Syria.  

Rights groups and activists say at least 1,800 civilians have been killed since the start of the government's crackdown in mid-March.

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

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More