UN: Assad’s Crackdown Has Killed ‘Well Over 7,500’ People

Posted February 28th, 2012 at 11:00 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A senior U.N. official says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising has killed “well over 7,500” people, an increase of 2,100 from the death toll provided by the world body last month.

U.N. political chief Lynn Pascoe said Tuesday he has “credible reports” from Syria of more than 100 civilians being killed every day, “including many women and children.”

In a briefing to the U.N. Security Council, Pascoe also said the Syrian conflict has sent 25,000 refugees into neighboring countries and caused the internal displacement of 100,000 to 200,000 people.

Syrian officials blame the nearly year-long uprising on foreign-backed armed “terrorists” whom the government says have killed more than 2,000 security personnel. The revolt against Mr. Assad's autocratic rule has become increasingly militarized in recent months with Syrian army defectors joining a loosely-organized rebel force.

France said Tuesday diplomats have begun drafting a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate end to violence in Syria so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to communities under weeks of government assault.

Russia and China have twice vetoed Western- and Arab-backed Council resolutions that would have condemned Damascus for its deadly crackdown. Diplomats say Western powers and their Arab partners hope that focusing a new resolution on Syria's humanitarian situation will make it difficult for Moscow and Beijing to cast a third veto.

VOA's U.N. correspondent said there was no confirmation that a draft text had been finalized by Tuesday afternoon.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said a humanitarian cease-fire must be declared in Syria immediately to stop “serious rights abuses” by security forces against civilians. She made the plea at a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Syrian envoy Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui walked out of the session in protest.

Syrian rights activists said government troops killed at least 41 civilians on Tuesday in opposition hubs throughout Syria.

Witnesses say pro-Assad forces have bombarded Baba Amr on a daily basis for more than three weeks, killing hundreds of people and leaving residents desperately short of food, water and medical supplies.

In other developments, Syrian rebels smuggled wounded British photographer Paul Conroy out of Baba Amr into Lebanon on Tuesday. Global activist group Avaaz said it helped to organize the operation. It also said 13 Syrians were killed during the evacuation — three while helping Conroy escape and 10 others as they tried to bring aid into the area.

French daily Le Figaro told VOA the newspaper's wounded reporter, Edith Bouvier, remains trapped in Baba Amr with two other Western journalists. It said their lives are in “serious danger.” Bouvier and Conroy were wounded in a February 22 shelling attack that killed two other Western journalists as they sheltered in a makeshift media center.

Meanwhile, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki told the French-language daily La Presse he is ready to offer asylum to Mr. Assad and his associates as part of a negotiated solution to the Syrian crisis.