Fri, Feb 10, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Scores more die in Syria as UN mulls observer mission

AFP, DAMASCUS

UN Secretray-General Ban Ki-moon accused the Syrian army of appalling brutality after the deaths of 69 more civilians on Wednesday and said the Arab League was proposing a joint mission to witness the bloodshed.

Fifty deaths were reported in the protest city of Homs where a barrage of gunfire, mortars and shells was launched at dawn and continued all day. State television said a car bomb ripped through the central city, killing and wounding civilians as well as security officers.

Ban said the “appalling brutality” of the government’s artillery assault on the protest city of Homs “is a grim harbinger of worse to come.”

Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin insisted any outside intervention to stop the violence would have the destructive effect of “a bull in a china shop.”

However, Ban launched the idea of sending a joint observer mission as he bemoaned the UN Security Council’s failure to agree a resolution on the crisis.

Ban and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi spoke on Tuesday. The League suspended its monitoring mission to Syria on Jan. 28 because of the mounting violence.

“He informed me that he intends to send the Arab League observer mission back to Syria and asked for UN help,” Ban told reporters after briefing a UN Security Council meeting. “He further suggested that we consider a joint observer mission in Syria, including a joint special envoy.”

The UN leader said consultations would be held with the Arab League and UN Security Council members in coming days “before fleshing out the details.”

The UN secretary-general said he feared the violence would worsen and launched into a new attack on the divided 15--member Security Council. Russia and China again vetoed a Syria resolution on Saturday.

Their move had been “disastrous” for the Syrian people and had only encouraged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step up his “war” on opponents, Ban said in New York.

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