UN leader tells Assad to end military onslaught in Syria

UNITED NATIONS- UN leader Ban Ki-moon told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday to immediately end his deadly military campaign against opponents, the United Nations said.
Ban also said the use of mass arrests must be halted in Syria in the first contacts between the two since April.
Assad had been refusing to take calls from the UN secretary general as he stepped up his crackdown on opposition protests. But a UN Security Council statement this week has increased international pressure on the Syrian leader whose government announced Saturday that "free" elections would be held this year.

UN leader tells Assad to end military onslaught in Syria
"In a phone conversation with President Assad of Syria today, the secretary general expressed his strong concern and that of the international community at the mounting violence and death toll in Syria over the past days," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
Ban "reflected to the Syrian president the clear message sent by the Security Council and urged the president to stop the use of military force against civilians immediately," Nesirky said.
The Security Council ordered the UN leader to make a report on events in Syria by Wednesday and Ban had promised to make a new effort to contact Assad.
Assad again made his defence that "a large number" of Syrian security forces had been killed in the protests, and Ban said he condemned violence against civilians and security forces, said his spokesman.
"The president also referred to his recently announced reform measures. The secretary general underscored that for these measures to gain credibility, the use of force and mass arrests must stop immediately," the UN added.
"He reminded President Assad of the Syrian authorities’ obligations under international human rights law."
The UN leader also repeated calls for the Syrian government to receive missions from the international humanitarian agencies and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
These long-standing demands will be discussed with Syria's foreign minister this week, the spokesman said.
"The secretary general also underlined the responsibility of the Syrian authorities to ensure the security of the UN staff and premises inside the country," added the spokesman.
Protests against Assad started in mid-March. The Syrian government has since then sought to crush the democracy movement with brutal force, killing around 1,650 civilians and arresting thousands of dissenters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Sunday, August 7th 2011

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