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UN official calls on Syria to end use of "excessive and lethal force"


10:02, August 18, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The senior UN official in charge of issues of children and armed conflict would like Syrian security forces to temper their use of force against civilians, according to a statement released here Wednesday.

"Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy calls on Syrian authorities to end the use of excessive and lethal force by security forces that is taking a heavy toll on civilian lives, including children," the statement said.

Violence has escalated in Syrian cities in recent days, as government security forces have carried out a violent crackdown on Syrians deemed to be loyal to those opposing ruler Bashar al-Assad.

"We have had credible allegations of children being killed or wounded in security operations against civilians in Syria," Coomaraswamy said in the statement.

"There are also allegations that children have been tortured by the security forces. State parties have a duty to protect children in any police or military operations and I call on the Syrian authorities to fulfill their obligations."

The statement said that Coomaraswamy remains concerned about the safety of internally displaced and refugee children fleeing the violence as well.

In light of security concerns, the UN has relocated some of its non-essential personnel out of Syria, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said Wednesday. He noted that the United Nations system has some 160 international personnel in Syria normally.

In a separate statement, also released Wednesday, Coomraswamy said she is "deeply concerned" about the number of civilians, including women and children, who have become casualties of aerial and drone attacks in conflicts taking place all over the world.

"Though we have consistently received reassurance that standard operating procedures exist to minimize civilian casualties in air operations, I still receive reports and allegations of casualties involving women and children," Coomaraswamy noted in the statement.


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