Ban Ki-moon increases pressure on Syria


Ban Ki-moon: "How many more times have we to condemn them?"

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed deep frustration with the violence in Syria, two days after reports emerged of another massacre.

Mr Ban said there was little evidence that Syria's government was complying with envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.

Activists say government-backed militias killed 78 people in Qubair village on Wednesday. The government said terrorists killed nine people.

UN observers are expected to try to reach the village later.

They were shot at and forced to turn back while trying to reach Qubair on Thursday.

The BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says the need for the observers to find out what actually happened at Qubair is made all the more acute by the fact that there are two completely contradictory accounts of what happened.

Syrian state TV is repeatedly showing pictures of dead children, accusing the opposition of staging the killings of nine people to spark international intervention.


Kofi Annan's main message was that the Security Council must unite in action to force the Syrian government to implement his plan, or the crisis would spiral out of control. For the first time he alluded to the possibility of sanctions, saying there should be consequences for non-compliance.

In the council, there was a sense that something should be done, but it still wasn't clear what that should be. Several Western states again proposed sanctions resolutions. But Russia remained cool to the idea, emphasising instead that without pressure also on the armed opposition, the regime wouldn't bow to international demands.

Mr Annan acknowledged that discussions had started about setting up a contact group of regional and world powers with influence on Syria's government and opposition. But the idea seems to have got bogged down in disputes about whether Iran should participate.

But opposition activists are equally adamant that a much larger massacre was perpetrated by militias known as shabiha.

The activists say government forces removed many of the bodies while the UN observers were trying to get to the village.

Western media organisations are restricted in Syria, making it difficult to verify the claims of either side.

Syrians 'bleeding'

"The danger of a full-scale war is imminent and real," Mr Ban told a joint news conference with Mr Annan and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi.

"Reports of yet another massacre in Qubair underscore the horrifying reality on the ground," he said.

"How many more times have we to condemn them, and how many ways must we say that we are outraged? The Syrian people are bleeding."

And while reiterating that Mr Annan's six-point peace plan remained "at the centre of our focus", he said urgent talks were needed to discuss how to proceed further.

The US is demanding decisive action, but Russia and China are both opposing any outside intervention.

Iran controversy

At the news conference, Mr Annan also confirmed that discussions were taking place on forming a contact group of key nations on Syria.

He said that the group would exert more pressure on both the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition to comply with the peace plan.

Annan's six-point plan

1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people

2. End to violence by all sides; army troops to stop using heavy weapons and withdraw to barracks

3. Parties to allow humanitarian aid

4. Authorities to free political detainees

5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement for journalists

6. Authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations

But the possible participation of Iran in the group has already proved controversial.

Although Mr Annan expressed hopes that Iran would be part of the solution, the US and UK earlier ruled out Tehran's participation.

On Friday, activists said government forces had resumed shelling the city of Homs, where they were engaged in a battle to try to retake districts controlled by rebels.

The UN says at least 9,000 people have died since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011. In April, the Syrian government reported that 6,143 Syrian citizens had been killed by "terrorist groups".

The UN has 297 unarmed observers in Syria to verify the implementation of Mr Annan's six-point plan. It includes a ceasefire, which was supposed to have taken effect in mid-April.

However, deaths are reported every day, with about 200 people said to have died on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    @29 gedi, religion should never have any influence in the affairs of any country, ever.

    Syria shows just how powerless the UN are, and while politicans bicker and argue, innocent children are being murdered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    73. david sheng
    "And the Western powers, especially USA, doesn't care whether the people live or die, they just want oil and seek hegemonism"

    What ever is happening there, the UK & US should not be involved in a military capacity. Let Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia & other Arab states do their bit for once. Why blame the West & not regional powers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    At this point I cannot help but notice how anti-rebels/ anti-intervention the highest rated comments have become compared to those in articles a few months ago.
    Don't get me wrong, i do not doubt that the oppostition has its problems, but being impartial is not easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Britain and the West should stay out. Let the Syrians and other ME states deal with it. We have no proof of massacres or who conducted them. Could be old photographs from earlier wars. Why believe a media with an agenda? If Nato intervenes we will have dummies protesting in London, calling British soldiers murderers, and these protestors will include those calling for intervention now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    44. elefans66. Get your facts right, Syria has oil.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Reading through some of these comments it seems the anti-West/Israel brigade is out in force this morning..

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    One thing i would like to know is what is the purpurse of the UN? Surely peace keepers should be pushed into Syria then pressure put onto both sides, this is a one sided war for which the rebels have no chance of winning. Send in Russian and Chinese peacekeeps, then again arnt they arming Syria in the first place. The Arab league sould intervine also.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    felixthebadger .. well, that prove that these are radical islamic militias, not supporters of a secular state for all...Syria is NOT an islamic repubblic anyway. And read what christians say...why this is not on BBC?

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    “The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour.”

    T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia)

    Let us heed these words as they are equally true today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    people who suffered the civil war in syria are the citizen, especially women and children. And the Western powers, especially USA, doesn't care whether the people live or die, they just want oil and seek hegemonism

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.


    >I do not believe Syria in the majority wants rid of Assad

    Maybe, but I can't tell.

    >A very dangerous game is being played

    Agreed. Some possibilities:

    a) Assad regime stays, through more death and destruction

    b) Assad regime overthrown by force, followed by retribution on Allawites and maybe others

    c) long, deadly civil war

    Hard to support any of these, or to see other options.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    you must be right @ 61 says:
    "How much power do you think Israel really has - to create and sustain Iranian, Syrian regimes? And if they did, why would they create regimes so opposed to them? "

    That is a line of thought I had.

    But then I realised that by dissolving power and creating mayhem over Syrian landmass a dangerous air corridor open could be open for things we shouldn't discuss here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    @32 Peter Barry

    Interesting link! No room for ambiguity, all very clear and in the open. Of course people are entitled to their beliefs but what is problematic is when these same people wield such power and claim to represent others, after all if you're serving two masters how does anyone know which one you're serving at any time. They all mention benefits too. Politicians do seem to get rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    No Fan of Assad, but FACT no one knows who carried out the massacres. Newsnight last night was disgraceful, completely biased with the presenter's comment 'apart from murdering civilians what is Assads plan'. gutter press BBC. If the Syrians wanted Assad out he'd be out the fact that he isn't shows the press focusing on the minority, that and the west don't like him anyway. Let Syria sort it out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    58.VesselAnaw - I think you have hit the nail on the head. I think the same tactic was used by the nazis in ww2, so that they had an excuse to go into Czechoslovak and others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    UN secretary general is always a mouthpiece of USA,what he says of US raids killing innocent people in Afganistan. Sunni Saudies do not wish a strong Shia Iran,USA another mouthpiece for Saudies is intervening for Sunnis sake. Iran like Pakistan neds nuclear deterrent.Assad like Mubarak should step down so also Saudi and Baharins' autocrats and call for free elected Govt. what UN/US say of that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Syria is just a pawn on the control of oil power between the West and Russia/China.The question is: are politicians monsters? Don't they feel a drop of guilt when they see/hear about babies being shot dead with a bullet on their head? Foreign intervention or Assad military, this has to stop NOW and the UN is just useless in its way of working! Regime change needed for UN!

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    the UN are delaying the inevitable with their continual announcements that they might do something. they are toothless and clawless unless Russia and China relent and allow action we need to let them move to civil war and sort the matter out it sounds hard but many are losing life anyway give both sides weapons and see what happens once assad knows he could lose he might talk


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