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Over 5,000 civilians killed in Syria violence, says UN official

(Xinhua)

10:11, December 13, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Dec.12 (Xinhua) -- More than 5,000 people have been killed in the ongoing violence in Syria, Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights said here Monday.

Pillay made the statement to the press outside the chambers of the UN Security Council, after briefing the 15-nation council on the situation in the Middle East, including Syria.

"It is rather shocking that when I reported to the Security Council on the 18th of August, I reported that there were 2,000 civilians killed," she said. "Today I've reported that the figure exceeds 5,000 and the number of children killed is more than 300."

Tensions in Syria began in March when protesters took to the streets to call for the ouster of President Bashar Assad. The situation has since escalated, and Syrian security forces have been accused of firing on innocent protesters, reports said.

Syria has, from the beginning, blamed armed terrorist groups backed by a foreign conspiracy for being behind the turmoil with the aim of toppling the government of President Assad and replacing it with an Islamic rule.

On Wednesday, Assad blamed the violence in Syria on criminals, religious extremists and terrorists sympathetic to al-Qaida. He claimed that they are mixed with peaceful demonstrators.

Pillay said thousands of Syrians have been put in detention centers by the government, where some experienced torture. Other Syrians have been displaced from their homes.

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