News / Middle East

UN Security Council Hears ‘Chilling’ Briefing on Syrian Crisis

European members of the U.N. Security Council are urging Syria to comply with the body’s calls for it to end a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, otherwise, they warn the council will consider further steps to pressure Damascus.

The 15-member council was privately briefed Wednesday afternoon on the situation in Syria by a top U.N. political officer, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.

Afterwards, Britain’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Philip Parham outlined to reporters what he called a “chilling” and “depressing” briefing.

“It is clear that the military offensive by the regime against its own people continues; an offensive which is brutal, an offensive which is unwarranted and an offensive which is in breech of the regime’s international legal obligations. And just to remind you of the scale of what we are talking about, some 2,000 civilians have now been killed, the vast majority of them unarmed. Some 3,000 civilians have been forcibly disappeared. Some 13,000 remain detained," he said.

The ambassador noted that since the protests began in mid-March, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Syria and several thousand remain as refugees in neighboring Turkey. He also condemned the lack of access for humanitarian workers and international media.

Speaking on behalf of his three European counterparts on the council, Ambassador Parham underscored some key points the U.N. secretariat made during the closed-door session: that gross human rights violations are being perpetrated; there is no prospect of progress as long as military operations continue against civilians; and that for reform measures to gain credibility the use of force and mass arrests must stop immediately.

Ambassador Parham said the Syrian regime needs to heed the calls that have come from the Security Council, as well as the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Turkey and others to stop the violence and implement real political reforms.

“And if they continue, nevertheless, along their current path, and they fail to heed those calls, then we believe the council must look at taking further steps to keep up the pressure on the Syrian regime to get things onto a better track. And that kind of pressure will be consistent with and complimentary to the pressure that we have now seen coming from the region and from other parts of the international community," he said.

The U.S. Ambassador, Susan Rice, echoed that position, saying Washington would continue and intensify its pressure both through additional U.S.-imposed sanctions, as well as through coordinated efforts with other nations.

Syria’s U.N. envoy, Bashar Ja’afari told reporters that statements by Ambassador Parham and his European counterparts were wrong.

“They tried to manipulate the truth and to hide important facts and elements related to the so-called situation in Syria. Deliberately they condoned and ignored very important steps taken by the Syrian government. Deliberately they ignored and avoided making reference to very important and positive progress that has been achieved in my country," he said.

He gave as examples of that progress the visit of Turkey’s foreign minister to Damascus on Tuesday and the meeting Wednesday between Syrian President Bashar al Assad and delegates from India, Brazil and South Africa, during which, according to a communiqué, Mr. Assad reassured them of his commitment to the reform process and multi-party democracy before the end of this year.

Ambassador Ja’afari also tried to refute accusations that Syria is not allowing in international media to cover the situation saying that the government had taken reporters on a tour of the restive city of Hama on Wednesday. He speculated that in coming days there would be more possibilities for additional reporters to participate in such government-led tours.

But Germany’s deputy ambassador, Miguel Berger, noted that the real issue is not about how long political reforms take. It is, he said, about stopping the killing of peaceful demonstrators immediately and beginning a serious dialogue between the government and protesters.

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

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid