U.N.'s Ban says Assad broke pledge to halt violence

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2011 1:21 PM
U.N.'s Ban says Assad broke pledge to halt violence

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday it was "troubling" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had not kept a promise to end a harsh crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Assad had told Ban in a telephone conversation last Wednesday that military and police operations against the demonstrators had stopped.

But since then, human rights advocates say Assad's security forces have killed more protesters.

"It's troubling that he has not kept his words," Ban told reporters. "I sincerely hope that he heeds ... all (the) international community's appeals and calls."

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in Geneva Monday that more than 2,200 people have been killed in the five-month-old crackdown.

Activists said Syrian forces shot dead three people in the city of Homs Monday as crowds welcomed a U.N. team that has been granted access to assess humanitarian needs.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York that "a protest situation developed" in Homs during the team's visit "and the mission was advised to leave for security reasons."

"The mission did not come under fire," he added.

(Reporting by Patrick Worsnip: Editing by Eric Beech)