UN team arrives in Syria

2011-08-21 08:58

Beirut - A UN humanitarian team arrived in Syria to assess the crisis as President Bashar al-Assad was scheduled to address the nation on Sunday.

State television announced that Assad would speak about "the situation in Syria, the continuing process of reforms and the repercussions of American and Western political and economic pressures." in an interview with the station.

The interview with the station would be Assad's first public appearance June 20, and only his fourth since the demonstrations against his government erupted in mid-March.

At least 1 860 civilians and 422 security personnel have been killed in the past four months, according to human rights advocates.

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

Lebanese radios on Sunday quoted UN spokesperson Amanda Pitt as saying that "a UN humanitarian team is in place in Syria now".

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

The New-York based Human Rights Watch called on the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take action against Syria, saying it had violated its charter "by systematically and brutally suppressing peaceful civilian protests."

"The OIC should issue a clear statement that security forces conducting policing may use lethal force only when strictly necessary to protect life, and that killing peaceful protesters is a serious violation of the OIC charter," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the group's Middle East director.

On Saturday, tanks entered the central city of Homs, one day after 34 protesters were killed, activists said.

They alleged that troops had arrested Malak Mahmud Sayed in the northern city of Aleppo late on Saturday while she was trying to apply for a passport.Author:Weedah Hamzah



Read more on:    bashar al-assad  |  syria  |  uprisings

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