UN Human Rights Council Expected to Condemn Syria

Posted February 28th, 2012 at 6:30 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations' top human rights body is meeting in Geneva to consider a condemnation of Syria.

At the Tuesday session the U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to support a resolution that accuses Syria of widespread human rights violations, persecution of anti-government activists and the use of heavy weapons in residential areas.

The resolution also urges Syria to let humanitarian agencies deliver food, medicine, fuel and other critical supplies in heavily hit areas.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey, which all helped draft the resolution, requested the urgent meeting.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been negotiating with Syria's government and rebels for days to try to secure access to Baba Amr, a neighborhood of the flashpoint city of Homs besieged by government forces in recent weeks. An ICRC spokesman in Geneva says Syrian Arab Red Crescent ambulances entered the rebel-held district Monday and were able to evacuate three wounded Syrians.

Activists are reporting that Syrian Forces resumed intense shelling of Baba Amr on Tuesday.

Local activists say many people are short of water, food and medical supplies after weeks of daily bombardments in Baba Amr.

In another development, sources say British photographer Paul Conroy of the Sunday Times newspaper has been smuggled out of Homs to Lebanon. He was wounded last week during an attack that killed Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik.

Homs is a hub of Syria's 11-month uprising against autocratic Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

On Monday, Syria drew a mixed international response for holding a referendum Sunday to approve a new constitution. Syria said 90 percent of voters approved the new constitution, which allows the creation of a multi-party system and sets presidential term limits in a country ruled solely by the Baath Party since 1963. The reforms also would allow President Assad to keep much of his power.

China and Russia welcomed the Syrian referendum. The two nations have repeatedly blocked the U.N. Security Council from condemning or punishing Damascus for its deadly crackdown on the opposition revolt.

U.N.-appointed investigators estimate the death toll from the Syrian uprising at 6,400 civilians and 1,680 army defectors. Syrian officials insist the government is fighting foreign-backed armed “terrorists.”