UN monitors to try again to reach Syria massacre site
AFP DAMASCUS UN MONITORS will once again try on Friday to reach the site of a new Syrian massacre after being shot at in their first attempt, as Kofi Annan urged united action to stop the crisis from spiralling out of control.
Meanwhile, anti-regime demonstrations erupted after weekly Muslim prayers, activists said, including in the capital. In a closed-door briefing to the UN Security Council, Annan called on world powers to warn President Bashar al Assad’s regime of “clear consequences” unless it abides by his widely flouted peace plan, a diplomat said.
“The longer we wait, the darker the future looks for Syria,” the UN-Arab League envoy was quoted as saying.
Annan called for “united” and “substantial” pressure on Assad, and said there must be “real results soon or the crisis will spiral out of control.” His remarks came after at least 55 people were killed Wednesday in an assault on Al- Kubeir, a Sunni farming enclave surrounded by Alawite villages in the central province of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A convoy of UN observers was fired on when it tried to investigate the slaughter on Thursday and was set to make a new attempt to enter the village on Friday, the UN said.
According to evidence, troops had surrounded Al- Kubeir and militia had entered the village and killed civilians with “barbarity,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon was quoted as telling the Security Council.
Damascus denied responsibility and, as it has done repeatedly in the past, blamed foreign-backed “terrorists.” The new UN attempt to visit the site comes despite the almost daily targeting of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), including the use of heavy weapons, armourpiercing bullets and surveillance drones, according to Ban.
The observers, targeted by two roadside bombs since starting their mission in mid- April, had tried to stop tank assaults against populated areas, but were “ignored,” said the UN chief.
Such tactics had been used to try to force the unarmed monitors to withdraw from areas where government forces have been accused of staging attacks, he was quoted as saying.
Ban praised the “brave” monitors, but said the Security Council would have to consider whether the mission is “sustainable.” “Syria can quickly go from a tipping point to a breaking point. The danger of a full-scale civil war is imminent and real, with catastrophic consequences for Syria and the region,” he told reporters.
“The Syrian people are bleeding. They are angry. They want peace and dignity. Above all, they all want action.” On Friday, troops battled to take back the rebel bastion of Khaldiyeh in the central city of Homs, bombarding it with shells “at a rate of five shells a minute,” said the Observatory.