UN Chief Slams Syrian Government, Rebels

Posted September 10th, 2012 at 9:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the Syrian government and rebel groups for choosing violence and force rather than dialogue.

In an opening speech Monday to a three-week session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mr. Ban also rebuked the U.N. Security Council for failing to take a unified stance to end the Syrian crisis.

He told delegates he is “deeply troubled by the aerial bombardments of civilians by government forces” in Syria and expressed concern at increasing sectarian tensions and the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Mr. Ban urged nations and Syrians to unite behind the diplomatic efforts of the new U.N.-Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.

The new envoy met with Egyptian and Arab League officials in Cairo Monday.

The special envoy held talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi before an expected trip to Damascus. A spokesman for Brahimi said the date of the visit to Syria will be fixed once the final details are set.

Brahimi called his mission “very difficult” but added, “it is not my right to refuse to give whatever assistance I can to the Syrian people.” Asked if he would meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Brahimi said: “I hope to but I don't know.”

Iran's Mehr news agency quoted a senior Iranian foreign ministry official as saying Brahimi would visit Iran – a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – after his fact-finding trip to Syria. Brahimi's spokesman said the U.N. envoy planned to visit Syria soon but there were no plans for travel to Iran.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least five people were killed Monday when government planes bombed a series of opposition-held districts in Aleppo.

There were also reports of casualties in the capital, Damascus, and in the southern city of Daraa.

It was not possible to verify government and opposition casualty figures independently.