Crackdown Continues in Syria

Posted August 20th, 2011 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian security forces have killed at least two people in the central province of Homs. The deaths Saturday come a day after Syrian forced killed more than 28 people across the country.

President Bashar Assad pushed ahead with his brutal crackdown despite assurances to the U.N. chief this week that the military operations have ended.

The military offensive has also focused on the coastal city of Latakia, the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, and the central flashpoint city of Hama.

International pressure against Mr. Assad mounted on Thursday when the United States, the European Union and several other Western powers, said for the first time the Syrian leader had to go. Also, the U.S. announced new sanctions against the Assad government.

In a separate development, the U.N. announced plans to send a team to Syria this week to assess the country's humanitarian situation. The U.N.'s human rights office said Thursday that Mr. Assad's forces had carried out widespread and systematic attacks on civilians that “may amount to crimes against humanity.”

U.N. Human rights chief Navi Pillay told the Security Council it should refer the situation in Syria to the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

But Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, accused Washington and some other Security Council members of waging what he called a “diplomatic and humanitarian war” against his country.