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

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report uses education levels to determine the smartest and least smart states in the nation

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.