Syria 'cleaning up' evidence

2011-08-21 14:38

Beirut - Syrian forces are conducting a clean-up in a Palestinian refugee camp in the city of Latakia to erase evidence of "crimes against humanity" there, a Western diplomat in Europe told the German Press Agency dpa on Sunday.

His comments came the day after a UN humanitarian team arrived in Syria to assess the ongoing crisis there.

"Reports of a clean-up are perfect evidence of what the regime is denying: that there was an attack on the refugee camp, home to thousands of UN registered Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee as they came under fire," said the diplomat, who spoke to dpa on condition of anonymity.

"The Baathist (ruling party) killing machine can wash the blood off the streets, but not off its hands," the diplomat added.

The UN mission arrived in Syria on Saturday amid charges that forces commanded by President Bashar al-Assad have carried out "widespread and systematic" attacks on civilians, which UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay said amounted to "violations of human rights".

The Palestinian refugee camp is located in Latakia, a port city which has come under sustained assault, including, according to reports, from gunboats lying offshore.

The UN team is led by Rashid Khalikov, chief of the Geneva bureau of the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs.

Human rights advocates say at least 1 860 civilians and 422 security personnel have been killed in Syria since March when protests calling for al-Assad's ouster began.

It is difficult to verify those reports because authorities have barred entry to most foreign media and international observers.

- SAPA

Read more on:    syria  |  uprisings

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