UN chief urges collective action against Syria


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ‘outraged’ by latest killings, joins call for Security Council measures against Assad regime

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and international envoy Kofi Annan stepped up pressure on the divided UN Security Council on Friday, urging that it demand a halt to the escalating violence in Syria and promise “consequences” if the conflict doesn’t end.
The UN chief and the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria renewed their appeals for Security Council action following Thursday’s attack on a poor farming village in Hama province, which they strongly condemned. Opposition sources reported an additional 100 deaths in Syria following the Tremseh massacre.
They accused the Syrian government of violating Security Council resolutions by using heavy weapons, including artillery, tanks and helicopters, in the attack on Tremseh, killing scores of people in what rebels claim was among the worst single events in the uprising.
Ban also said the reports of mass killings in Syria on Friday “cast serious doubts on President Assad’s recent expression of commitment to the six-point plan in his meeting with the Joint Special Envoy” earlier in the week.
Ban sent a letter Friday to the Security Council, which was obtained by The Associated Press, and enclosed a separate letter from Annan urging Security Council action to help end the 16-month conflict.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she is outraged by reports of a new massacre in Syria and is demanding that the UN Security Council take action to stop the violence. She also called for an immediate cease-fire in the area of the massacre so that UN monitors can get there.
Clinton said in a statement Friday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime is deliberately killing innocent civilians as it tries to put down 16 months of unrest and that history will judge the Security Council if it fails to act.
“History will judge this council,” she said. “Its members must ask themselves whether continuing to allow the Assad regime to commit unspeakable violence against its own people is the legacy they want to leave.”
Although she did not mention them by name, Clinton’s warning was directed at Russia and China, which have blocked previous UN efforts to impose sanctions on Syria.
Under Annan’s six-point peace plan — which was endorsed by the council but never implemented — the Syrian government was to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas and halt all violence, to be followed by a cessation of hostilities by the opposition.
The council is debating a new Security Council resolution on Syria, spurred by the July 20 expiration of the mandate for the UN observer force there and the failure of the Annan plan.
Russia and Britain have circulated rival texts, and Ban and Annan’s comments indicated a strong preference for the Western-backed British draft.
It threatens non-military sanctions against President Bashar Assad’s government if it doesn’t withdraw troops and heavy weapons from population centers within 10 days. The proposed resolution is under the UN Charter’s Chapter 7, which can be enforced militarily.
Russia said Thursday it will oppose any resolution on Syria that is militarily enforceable, calling it “a red line.”
Moscow’s draft resolution calls for the “immediate implementation” of the Annan peace plan and the guidelines for a political transition approved at a meeting in Geneva last month, but makes no mention of sanctions, saying the council will assess implementation and “consider further steps as appropriate.”
Annan’s letter recalled that when he briefed the UN Security Council on Wednesday he stated that “the government has increased its operations — with shelling, mechanized infantry, and the use of helicopter gunships, including in population centers.”
He said the attack on Tremseh is “another grim reminder that the council’s resolutions continue to be flouted.”
Ban said he fully backed Annan’s views and reiterated his call on Security Council members to take action.
Security Council experts met again Friday morning to review rival texts. Ambassadors from the five veto-wielding nations — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France — were scheduled to meet later Friday.
The UN also announced on Friday the increase of its humanitarian aid efforts in Syria. A UN spokesperson said the organization expects to provide food for 850,000 people in July, up from 200,000 in April. Providing aid for Syrian citizens will cost an estimated $189 million, and the UN will need another $193 million to assist the refugees that have fled the violence in Syria.

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