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France slams UN silence over Syria

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. Photo: Reuters/ Jim Young

By News Agencies | New York / 20 Sept 2011

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accused the Syrian regime Monday of “crimes against humanity” and slammed the UN Security Council for failing to take a strong stand on the unrest.

“Crimes against humanity are committed in Syria. The silence of the Security Council is unacceptable,” Juppe told the Council on Foreign Relations, at a talk held on the sidelines of a week of UN summits.

Juppe warned of the risk of an “explosion of violence” if the Palestinian situation is not resolved, saying the status quo was “neither acceptable nor tenable.” “The relaunch of the peace process is needed,” Juppe said.

Syrian forces shot dead at least six villagers and two rebel soldiers in a sweep on the countryside north of the city of Homs on Monday  as the opposition scrambled to organize against the regime, activists said.

The assault on Houla, a collection of villages just north of Homs, which is 165 km north of Damascus, followed a large protest the night before demanding the removal of President Bashar Assad.

Around 12 government soldiers manning rural checkpoints had defected, activists said.

Since the anti-regime protests erupted in mid-March, several opposition groups have emerged united in their call for the ouster of Assad’s autocratic regime but have been divided about how to go about achieving it.

The latest group, the Syrian Coalition of Secular and Democratic Forces (CSDF), is meeting in Paris where it issued a statement on Monday urging the international community to protect civilians against the repression.

The appeal — an implicit call for foreign intervention — conflicted with other pleas by opposition groups for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and the launch of political, economic and social reforms.

“We call on the international community to adopt a United Nations resolution to protect civilians,” said a statement modeled on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 that authorized international action in Libya.

Syrian security forces have killed 2,700 anti-government protesters since the uprising started in March, including at least 100 children, the United Nations human rights office said on Monday.

Kyung-wha Kang, deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on Assad’s government to cooperate with an international inquiry into the bloodshed so as to ensure accountability for all violations.


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