‘Immediate ceasefire’ urged in Syria

Al Jazeera Exclusive: Syrian troops accused of targeting children

There needs to be an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria, the UN human rights chief has declared, saying the situation has deteriorated rapidly as the Syrian government steps up its onslaught against the opposition.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said during Tuesday's debate at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, Switzerland,  that the world has to take action to prevent Syrian security forces from continuing their bombardments and other attacks against civilians, which she said had resulted in "countless atrocities".

She also urged Syria to end all fighting, allow international monitors to enter the country and give unhindered access for aid agencies to enter Homs and other besieged cities.

 

The appeal prompted a bitter response from Syria's ambassador to the UN offices in Geneva, who accused the 47-nation HRC of promoting terrorism in his country.

Before storming out of the room, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, said the urgent meeting would only prolong the crisis in Syria.

"We declare our withdrawal from this sterile discussion," he said. "The call for holding the session is part of a pre-established plan. It is aimed at attacking the Syrian state and its institutions under the pretext of humanitarian needs."

Opposing views

Eileen Donahoe, the US ambassador to the HRC, said: "Anyone who heard the Syrian ambassador should be aware that his comments were borderline out of touch with reality."

On the other hand, Gennady Gatilov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, told the meeting "it is important that the Syrian government co-operates with the ICRC" on the proposed humanitarian ceasefire.

Hamoui told the assembly the debate was
'fuelling the flames of terrorism' [Reuters]

Pillay's remarks followed the evacuation of British photographer Paul Conroy, wounded in Syrian army attacks on Homs, to neighbouring Lebanon.

Conroy, a photographer for the British confirmed safe in Lebanon but the whereabouts of the injured French reporter Edith Bouvier's remained unknown.

Also on Tuesday, the UN said "well over 7,500 people" had been killed in Syria due to the government's 11-month crackdown on protesters, raising its previous estimated death toll by more than 2,000.

(more of the article)

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