UN to discuss rising Syria death toll
Geneva - More than 2 900 people have been killed in Syria since the start of a crackdown on anti-regime protests, the UN said on Thursday a day before its human rights body was to discuss the situation.
"According to the detailed list of names of individuals we've been keeping, the total number of people killed since protests began in Syria now stands at more than 2 900," Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told AFP in Geneva.
Colville said that figure could rise because "quite a lot more people" have been reported missing in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government in mid-March, and the UN has yet to verify their whereabouts.
On Friday the UN Human Rights Council will discuss the situation in Syria, after Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a European-backed draft UN Security Council resolution that would have threatened possible action against Assad.
In the wake of the veto, human rights groups called on the Human Rights Council to denounce the Syrian government over its heavy-handed methods.
"We call on all countries to denounce the gravity, the scope and the systematic nature of human rights violations in the repression of Syria's largely peaceful protest movement," Philippe Dam of Human Rights Watch told AFP.
"The Human Rights Council has already adopted two resolutions on the current repression in Syria and the fact that the Syrian government has done nothing to respond to them and to allow international investigations should worry all UN members," he said.
The Council had on August 23 ordered its second probe into violations committed by the Syrian regime during its crackdown on popular protests, but an investigating team has yet to be allowed into the country.
The first team formed by the Council in April was blocked from entering Syria and had to base its investigation on interviews of people in and out of the country, as well as on videos, photos and written communications.