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 143.

    Once upon a time there was a man called Assad. He knew he could do whatever he wanted with impunity. He knew the international community would do nothing, and so he continued to slaughter men women and children. Anyone who didn't obey faced torture and death. The end. Sleep well kids!

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    121. A sort of greeny bluey thing
    "It always comes back to Israel I think..."

    Totally disagree. See #111 on bigger picture. Are attacks on Christianity in these also fault of Israel?See Panorama (Nov2010) on Islamic attitudes to Jews & or shootings in Toulouse. Look at Jewish Chronicle for rise of anti-Semitic attacks in France. Israel is the victim

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    133. I note that you didn't include Russia in your list. Shouldn't you be just a little bit suspicious that Russia makes so much money from selling arms to the Assad regime?

    You might talk about hypocrisy and double standards, but surely criticising Assad's opponents whilst's ignoring Russia's stance is exactly that.

  • Comment number 140.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    110Khaled Azzawi

    Hello Khaled.

    I for one do recognize that Assad is a major part of the problem, that Syrians have suffered in many ways for years, that there is terrible suffering there now – & that it matters.

    I still find it hard to see how the West can improve things either through diplomacy or armed intervention. The former seems futile & I think the latter could make things even worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    124 krokodile
    agree! Why do Israelis want Assad gone he is their most compliant neighbour! OK not a great friend but peaceful and pro status quo. They are unlikely to get another when the people are in power.
    i think their Muslim hatred blinds them to their own best interests they cut their own throats pushing to get rid of Assad, but push they do! Have you heard things they say in Israel?

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    1. Assad should announce his intention to stand down.

    2. A government of national unity should be formed, pledged to peaceful co-existence with neighbouring states, protection of all religions and minorities within its borders, an immediate end to state-sponsored terrorism and a secular, democratic society.

    3. A truth and reconciliation approach should be adopted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    People say this is all propaganda, we might as well say that world war II never took place. Up until recently people called it propaganda when were told that Ghaddafi hanged students n universities and had it shown n state tv not now, back n 1978, that he massacard prisoners, and much more. Well it's all there now, the videos, the frozen bodies of his victims kept since the eighties, and much more

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    China is doing the same as Assad in Tibet so why we have dialogue and trade with them I don,t know. Syria is a complicated place if it falls apart it will be like Yugoslavia on steroids it could blow into turkey iraq and iran large Kurdish population large number of christian sects plus druse aswell as shia sunni divide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    The issue with Syria is both sides, the Regime and the Rebels, seem to be nearly just as bad as each other. The Regime has oppressed their people just for expressing their rights, but the Rebels say they want democracy and will probably end up imposing Islamic law.

    If all fails (e.g. Russia continues to act immorally) and the West gets involved, the only side they should take are the civilians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    This all stinks

    Hague, Cameron, the west, america sat round a table with Saudi Arabia and agreed to sponsor this violent uprising against Assad

    but the hypocrisy and double standard is astounding, as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have also violently cracked down on anti government protests and uprisings.

    THe difference is the west gets its oil from Saudi and Bahrain - but not from Syria...Yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    110. Khaled Azzawi You claim you want freedom, but freedom for who? Other religious groups like the Jews and Christians, or freedom for women to get an education without being terrorised. Im sorry but the people who are arming the rebels all have pathetic rights records and no freedom. Assad isnt the problem its Islamists and this idea that we should wage wars for you to elect madmen and lunatics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    The massacre of innocent people, wherever it takes place, is rightly condemned as a crime against humanity and against international law. The problem lies in the implementation of justice and by whom. If not by the UN then any action will be seen as partisan. The UN needs to toughen its resolve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Any monitoring group that is not objective and excludes Russia, China and Iran will just be another pre determined result.

    Just like Iraq where Blair's lies on WMD were proved groundless. Pity we just destroyed a nation to demonstrate it.

    It is only to help Israel that the USA is interested in Syria. That should be obvious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Britain has two options here.

    Option 1) Not to intervene and be criticised for allowing the Syrian regime to kill its own civilians;

    Option 2) Intervene by sending troops in and be accused of killing Syrian civilians ourselves and sacrifice a load of our troops in the process.

    I feel sorry for the plight of the Syrian people but I vote for option 1 this time!

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Hi I just have one question for all the diplomats and heads of their respective state WHAT IF YOUR CHILDREN WERE THERE IN THAT MASSACRE WOULD YOU STILL TAKE SO LONG RESPOND. Whatever is happening is a crime against humanity against god and by watching we are equally a part of this hideous crime
    I can only watch theses video s and imagine the horror I appeal to everybody reading

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Who to believe??

    A Corrupt Syrian Govenment?
    A bunch of Corrupt western politicians?
    A Lying western media propaganda industry?
    A USA influenced UN sock puppet show?

    In the real world, the people who ignore all of it and go to the pub to watch football are actually far and away the smartest people in our modern society

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    I think everyone against intervention should remember what a great job we have done in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. All models of peaceful democracies. I also think that the BBC is really doing a good job in proper investigative journalism about Syria and this is no repeat of the subservience they displayed during the Iraq wars. Not really though! How about giving me access to William Hague on air

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    #116 ProfPhoenix wrote: "Could we have evidence concerning these allegations concerning war criminals?"

    Sure, read here:

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Israel blamed in some quarters for Syria (as some blame them for everything....very 1930's).

    Why would they want Assad gone? He is predictable and known....

    Look at Egypt: who knows what leadership they will get. The Israel Egypt peace accord never looked so shaky. It's Arab influences who are driving Syria and the rebels for tribal reasons.


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