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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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