Friday 24 March 2017

Syria on strike as death toll exceeds 5,000 mark

Elizebeth Kennedy

The death toll from Syria's crackdown on the nine-month-old uprising has exceeded 5,000 people, the top UN rights official said yesterday as Syrians closed their businesses and kept children home from school as part of a general strike to pressure President Bashar Assad to end the bloodshed.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at least 300 children are among those killed, and that thousands of people remain in detention.

Speaking at the United Nations, Ms Pillay said she told Security Council members of the increase in deaths during an afternoon briefing, and said she recommended that the council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, the permanent war crimes tribunal, for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Ms Pillay's briefing "underscores the urgency of the present moment", and urged the UN Security Council to take concrete steps to bring the violence to an end.

Mr Assad has shown no sign of easing his crackdown despite mounting international pressure, including a recent spate of economic sanctions from the EU, the Arab League and Turkey, that are punishing the Syrian economy, a dangerous development for the govern- ment in Damascus.

Irish Independent

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