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.

Analysis

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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  • Comment number 263.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 262.

    252. Black_And_Proud

    OR, they're selling Syria weapons and don't want that gravy train to come to an end!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 261.

    Its been obvious from the beginning that the Syrian regime think they can continue to rule by fear with arbitrary mass executions of civilians. Its worked before and they think it will work again with the solid backing of Putin. Who knows what Putin gets out of this. The most sickening thing about it is the lies from the Syrian State Media, 'armed gangs' indeed.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 260.

    229Khaled Azzawi
    "biggest concern for people here is the prospect of Islamists ruling, so they would rather let assad stay n power"

    Yes, it's a big concern. It may not happen immediately but Islamists are pushing in Indonesia where over 200 churches have been attacked etc ditto most of North Africa now. North Pakistan is effectively controlled by them. Islam continues to breed Islamists, why?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 259.

    156.corncobuk "So far all we have is accusations and counter-accusations without any proof of who done what."

    I think the only proof we need is when Assad described the PEACEFUL protestors as 'armed terrorist gangs' in march last year - that says all you need to know about a regime that is determined to hold onto power at any cost.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 258.

    The west equips the rebels and Russia are equipping Assad. We are knowingly creating a civil war. We have long been trying to weaken syria & remove the middleman between Iran and Hizbollah. This is a case of increasing the reportage of human rights abuses to prepare the public for any troops on the ground under the banner of 'responsibility to protect.' Regime change & Israeli security is the aim.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 257.

    238.Black_And_Proud

    "Why is this suddenly top of the news?"

    Actually, the good old British weather has pipped this story to the top spot. Like the coverage of the Jubilee, we know what's really important in the world. And the world should level sanctions that really bite, like telling Assad if he doesn't step down Syria will be forced to enter the Eurovision Song Contest next year.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 256.

    246Gironaut
    How does anyone who kills women and children with a knife cope though. Whatever happens they'll carry the memory of their actions to the grave.
    ____

    I very much agree with your post, but would prefer the list to read 'women, children and men'.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 255.

    Western governments got a few bad loans and gambling debts to pay off, and need a lot of dosh real fast, NATO can whack Syria and Iran, but it will cost big bucks, money up front please… cash only, no cheques

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 254.

    On paper the voice of UN is very powerful as it comprises most nations but in practice it is HMV. Nations are not afraid of UN a bit. At the most Banki Moon visits disaster areas and issues statements that nobody cares about. The League of Nations failed and now UN. The UN forces should act in unison and bring the perpetrators of violence to Hague be it Syria or Al Qaeda.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 253.

    It's all well and good saying we should intervene and stop these attrocities taking place but what then? If Assad's government falls should we then intervene to stop the innevitable retribution killings? Who are the rebel forces? What do they represent? Would it be a case of replacing one despot with another? These questions and more must be answered before we get pulled into a civil war.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 252.

    "The Russians have lost all credibility and are more concerned about arms sales than peace."

    OR the Russians take the long view including a strategic regional view of their national interest. They don't do knee-jerk reactions outside their immediate sphere of influence.

    They're aware that civil war in Syria could well spread to Lebanon, Iran and Iraq and the undesirable consequences of that.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 251.

    229Khaled Azzawi
    biggest concern for people here is the prospect of Islamists ruling, so they would rather let assad stay n power
    __
    Hi Khaled.

    Islamists ruling is a concern. It’s hard for me to say which would be worse - Erdogan seems better than Assad, but Ahmadinajad or Hamas? Not in the West's power though.

    Shia and Kurds in Iraq welcomed USA at first, so not totally different to Syria.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 250.

    The Arab countries like Saudi Arabia spend billions on defence equipment and then turn a blind eye to events in the region, usually demanding that the West sort things out.

    Why is everything always the problem of the UK and US?

    I don't recall seeing Saudi Tornadoes over Libya, or UAE troops in Iraq.

    The Russians have lost all credibility and are more concerned about arms sales than peace.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 249.

    The UN is not fit for purpose FACT! Following in the footsteps of Congo, Rwanda and Yugoslavia, the UN will prove it again now in Syria. The UN needs to be redefined - No permanent members and no veto rights. Start by moving UN HQ from NY. Mr Moon - stop doing the US's bidding!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 248.

    How can outsiders come into Syria and make opposing religious sects stop hating each other? Removing Assad does not remove the religious divides, as in Afghanistan and Iraq. The UN cannot just wade in and support 1 group over another. And if democracy is forcibly instilled, violence will continue from whichever group holds least power. History shows democracy/tolerance develops over time.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 247.

    I'm not entirely sure why we bother to have history. No one seems to learn anything from it.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 246.

    I can just about understand how someone who bombs a Town flat or shells it to pieces can sleep at night. There's a distance between their actions and the death they cause.
    How does anyone who kills women and children with a knife cope though. Whatever happens they'll carry the memory of their actions to the grave.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 245.

    229. Khaled Azzawi Its not that people in the UK are heartless, but you have to realise we have lost many men and women, been lied to by our own politicians, been the target of terrorism and are now jaded when it comes to the UN and conflicts in Muslim lands. Our troops do so much good in the world and have reached breaking point, we cannot know what will replace Assad on top of that.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 244.

    The change political required is obvious and as long a Russian and China stand to put the "Regime" more important than ordinary suppressed human lives, more will be killed. The Asad regime stand back and use their proxy militias to kill instead trying to resolve the problem, it is like "Cleansing". The Arab world I think will react to Russia and China's lack of help!.

 

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