Syria bloodiest day hangs over UN meet

2012-09-27 16:03

Damascus - More than 305 people were killed in the bloodiest day of Syria's 18-month revolt, a rights group said on Thursday, as Washington urged action from the "paralysed" UN Security Council.

The UN refugee agency, meanwhile, warned that as many as 700 000 Syrian refugees could flee the war-torn nation by the end of 2012 as it stepped up calls for emergency funding.

As fighting raged in several parts of Syria, unknown attackers blew up an oil pipeline in the northeast province of Hasaka, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Wednesday was the deadliest day of the Syrian conflict as more than 305 people died across the country, including 14 in twin bomb attack against the headquarters of the armed forces in the heart of Damascus, the Observatory said.

It said 199 of Wednesday's dead were civilians.

"This is the highest toll in a single day since March 2011. And this is only counting those whose names have been documented. If we count the unidentified bodies, the figure will be much higher," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The previous highest death toll of the uprising was on 19 July, when 302 people were killed, according to the Britain-based watchdog.

More than 30 000 people have been killed overall in violence since the March 2011 outbreak of the revolt against the rule of President Bashar Assad, in a toll compiled by the Observatory.

An Islamist rebel group said its men carried out the bombings against the headquarters of the regime's armed forces, and five of its fighters, including a suicide bomber, died during the assault. Its claim was impossible to verify.

Car bombs

All senior commanders and other officers escaped injury in Wednesday's attack on army headquarters, the military said.

State television showed video footage of a white van exploding beside the military headquarters, and a second blast inside the compound. It said the bombings came 10 minutes apart, and that 14 people were wounded.

A spokesperson for the Free Syrian Army's Military Council in Damascus, Ahmed al-Khatib, said the attack was staged with two car bombs.

Syria's military also said the "terrorist explosions around and inside the army headquarters were caused by two car bombs driven by suicide attackers".

It was the biggest attack on the security apparatus since a 18 July suicide bombing against a heavily guarded headquarters in Damascus killed four top regime officials, including defence minister General Daoud Rajha and Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.

Unknown attackers blew up an oil pipeline in the northeast Syrian province of Hasaka on Thursday.

"Unknown people blew up a crude oil pipeline before dawn in the Umm Madfaa region in southern Hasaka, causing a large fire. They also kidnapped the manager of the pumping station," Abdel Rahman told AFP by telephone.

The watchdog said plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the scene of the burst pipeline in Hasaka, the main oil producing region in Syria.

Several attacks have targeted Syria's oil infrastructure since the uprising erupted, cutting production in half from pre-revolt levels of 420 000 barrels per day.

In Aleppo city, troops pummelled the southwest district of Kalasseh and the eastern district of Sakhur and nearby Suleiman al-Halabi street, leaving an unknown number of casualties, said the Observatory.

The violence followed a pre-dawn rebel attack on an army checkpoint in the northwest province of Idlib, about 25km south of Aleppo on the highway to Damascus.

Fighting was also reported in Homs, Hama city, the coastal province of Latakia and the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. At least five people were killed on Thursday, including a child shot dead by a sniper in Hama city.

700 000 Syrian refugees

UNHCR chief co-ordinator for Syrian refugees Panes Moumtzsis on Thursday stepped up calls for emergency aid to refugees.

"There may be up to 700 000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries by the end of the year," Moumtzsis told reporters in Geneva. "We are running out of time."

Faced with the soaring need for aid, humanitarian agencies upped their call for funds to €379.2m to sustain operations until the end of the year.

At present, only $141.5m in funding is available, just 29% of the overall request, Moumtzsis said.

The UN children's agency UNICEF also took part in the joint appeal, saying that more than 50% of the refugees were under the age of 18 and one fifth were under five.

The raging conflict dominated proceedings at the UN General Assembly in New York.

"The atrocities mount while the Security Council remains paralysed and I would urge that we try once again to find a path forward" for the council to try to end the violence, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Her appeal on Wednesday came amid mounting attempts by Western governments to press Russia and China to ease their opposition to UN action against the Assad regime.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the blood of children killed in the conflict had become "a terrible stain on the reputation of this United Nations".

Arab ministers weighed calls for intervention, meeting UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the General Assembly sidelines.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki told AFP that his country could support an Arab peacekeeping force.

  • tom.poe.12 - 2012-09-27 16:17

    Is there too little Oil in Syria to necessitate the Western nations from intervening militarily?

      boom.baracus - 2012-09-27 16:22

      What a stupid comment. Read the article. It is China and Russia that are blocking any action, NOT the West.

      richard.bosmano - 2012-09-27 16:27

      Without the SC permission if they do ? It is the chinese,iranians and russians here making money and punching their ideologies at what they perceive to be lives of little values,arabs.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-27 16:54

      Do you get it now Tom?

      Desilusionada - 2012-09-27 17:20

      Yeah Fred, but then again he might be lucky. Some will never. And while the Fidel types of this world pontificate, the murdering carries on. And then this same crowd keep on regurgitating stories about drones and wedding planners, while 200 civilians are killed in one go. Its got f-all to do with oil and all about politics. To feed the ego of a megalomaniac......SICK (sic)

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-27 17:33

      There is a leadership void in the freer world. With strong leadership Putin would have been exposed as the ex-KGB officer that he is, and the Chinese regime the unelected neo-Communist politburo that it is. Putin would back down and the Chinese regime would do nothing. Unfortunately Obama has turned out to be a politician more focused on re-election, than the death and torture of countless Syrians and their families. To this extent, if that is what you mean Tom, I agree with you. If the freer world depended on Syrian oil, it would be forced into action. Not sure if this is what you mean. Doesn't sound like it. Sounds more like the reductionist anti-West oil-greed idea you're espousing.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-28 07:57

      Islam, what a prejudiced and uninformed comment. The biggest donors by far are from the West, BY FAR.

  • joseph.motloung.3 - 2012-09-27 18:59

    This proves that the president was stating the truth that the armed forces of Syria are fighting terrorists groups. Revolutionaries do not use suicide attacks

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-27 22:39

      Geez Joseph, you're continually wrong. You're supporting an unelected dictator who is literally murdering Syrians and their families in their homes. Wake up!

  • luyolo.mhlauli.9 - 2012-09-27 19:04

    Wonder why violence always increases whenever there's a UN Meeting either be it General Assembly meeting or UN Security Council Meeting.

  • sandor.l.varga - 2012-09-27 19:09

    US is no go because no oil involved. Russia and China is vetoing because selling arms for a regime and can be spiteful with a western world. But WHY ????? Is the Arab World doing absolutely nothing?? I can not read a Koran I presume an answer is there....

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-27 20:43

      The Arab tyrants of Persian gulf aren't going to bring democracy to anywhere. They need to slow down, they live in castles made of sand and glass.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-27 22:48

      Islam, such a stale, old and faulty perspective. You're being left behind by the new generation. Rightfully and thankfully so with that boring ideology.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-27 22:52

      You're occupying your own mind with truly stupid and highly immature ideology Islam. Surely you can see that now. How much longer do you want to blind yourself.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-27 20:35

    The USA and West's planned intervention in Syria has NOTHING to do with human rights, a concept the US only ever draws on when it suits their own strategic ends, and all to do with weakening Russia and Iran. That the West intervene whilst allied with brutal despotic regimes such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia underlines that point even more. Let the Arabs overthrow their leaders. Let them chose their form of government without western interference. There is no law that governments have to be democratically elected. Nato is a self defence pact, let Nato stick to self defence.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-27 22:44

      Like your totally wrong and crazy idea that Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom, you see a non-existent Western plan to intervene in Syria. Much to the chagrin of Syrians and their families who are crying for help, while being butchered by Assad and his brother just because they want to vote.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-28 04:17

      ""Let the Arabs overthrow their leaders." Well, this is exactly what the Syrians are doing, but you seem to have a problem with that !! If the West would have done more, than sending a box of night goggles and countries like Quatar had send the Syrian opposition, more than a crate of rifles, the nightmare for the Syrians would be long over !! "There is no law that governments have to be democratically elected." There might not be a law, but let me assure you, that there is NO country in the world where the population does not desire/DEMAND this from their leaders; ACCOUNTABILITY. And THAT is the essence of a 'democracy'. But I really don't feel like , educating you !!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-28 09:05

      @Auntony The west needs to reform and improve its own societies. If its own democratic institutions were better, along with otheir prosperity, personal and spiritual lives, then its example would be all that's required to guide other nations to freedom and democracy. There is nothing that a pig ignorant imbecile like you could teach me!

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-09-28 09:13

      The west always had the best and still do. It just is that you are in denial. You just can't get it into your pig's head.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-09-28 11:04

      It seems you are just a foul mouthed little girl. Not very lady-like now, is it???

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