UN Calls for Protection in Syria, Violence Continues

December 2, 2011  

The United Nations’ human rights chief called on the international community to protect Syrian civilians on Friday, as violence surged across the country.

The UN estimates that more than 4,000 people have been killed since the uprising in Syria began in the middle of March. The Associated Press reported on Friday that November was the deadliest month of the uprising, with at least 950 people killed.

“In light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens, the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was quoted by AP as having told an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

On Thursday, Pillay declared Syria to be “on the cusp of civil war.” She also said that while the UN has estimated the number of deaths to be 4,000 “the reliable information coming to us is that it is much more than that.”

Also on Thursday, the Arab League tightened its sanctions against Syria, adding 17 high-ranking Syrian officials to a list banning travel to other Arab states, including on its “black list” Assad’s brother, Maher al-Assad.

Maher al-Assad, considered the second most powerful man in Syria, is commander of the feared Syrian Republican Guard.

Also on the list were Syria’s ministers of Defense and the Interior, as well as senior military and intelligence officials and Assad’s millionaire cousin, Rami Makhlouf, head of the country’s mobile phone network.

The EU also announced new sanctions against Syria, targeting 12 people and 11 companies with travel bans and asset freezes, according to AP.

The sanctions add to a long list of regime figures previously sanctioned by the EU, including Assad himself and high-ranking security officials.

The new list includes the Syrian ministers of finance and the economy, army officers, as well as the pro-government Cham Press TV and Al-Watan newspaper.

Three oil companies, which according to the EU provide financial support to the regime, were also listed. They include the Syria Trading Oil Company, which is responsible for Syria’s oil exports.

Meanwhile, AP reported, the violence continued on Friday, with the most serious violence having occurred in the Syrian town of Talkalakh, near the border with Lebanon, where witnesses reported more than six hours of explosions and gunfire starting at 3 a.m.

According to the report, at least two people were struck by bullets on the Lebanese side of the border. They included an 11-year-old girl and a 40-year-old man, Lebanese security officials told AP.

Deadly violence was also reported in the Homs and Idlib provinces. At least nine people were killed nationwide, according to the Local Coordination Committees.

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