UN chief voices "deep concern" over escalating violence in Syria

09:18, July 21, 2011      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon voiced "deep concern" on Wednesday over the escalating violence in Syria, calling on the authorities "to stop repression immediately."

"The secretary-general is following with deep concern the escalating violence against peaceful protesters in Syria," said a statement released by his spokesperson. "He calls on the Syrian authorities to stop repression immediately. All sides should refrain from using violence."

In the statement, the secretary-general reiterated his call for a "credible and inclusive dialogue, which should be carried out without delay and be part of a broad and genuine reform effort."

"The mass arrests of protesters are not consistent with serious reform, and should stop," said the statement. "The secretary- general urges President Assad to concretely respond to pressing grievances and longer term concerns of the Syrian people."

In the statement, Ban said he "continues to urge the Syrian government to allow humanitarian access to affected areas and to facilitate the visit by the fact-finding mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights."

Syria has been in unrest since mid March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Daraa and spread to other cities.

The Syrian authorities blamed the unrest on "armed groups and foreign conspiracy" and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated people and damaged public and private properties.

The Syrian government said 1,200 members of security forces and army personnel had died since the eruption of protests. According to activists, more than 1,600 civilians have died and some 10,000 have been detained.

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