Saturday 20 January 2018

UN fails to agree as Syrian army kills 27 more civilians

Jon Swaine in New York

Syrian forces pressed on with their bloody campaign against their own people yesterday, killing dozens more civilians as world leaders continued to disagree on an international response.

At least 27 people were killed, scores wounded and 150 detained in attacks that started after prayers marking the start of Ramadan on Monday continued into yesterday, observers said.

Hopes that the United Nations could agree a resolution condemning the crackdown, which has left more than 1,700 dead, 3,000 missing and 12,000 imprisoned since March, were dashed by Russian diplomats in New York.

About half of the deaths were in Hama, the rebellious western city of 800,000, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been shelling with tanks and artillery since the weekend.

A doctor there told reporters that medical facilities were overwhelmed, with patients treated in hallways and mortuaries overflowing. More than 140 were reportedly killed in an offensive on Sunday.

Fresh protests erupted yesterday in Damascus, the capital, demanding an end to the violence and reform to a government ruled by al-Assad and his father for the past 40 years.

Italy became the first EU state to recall its ambassador, protesting against the "unacceptable repression" and urging others to do the same.

At the UN, new talks on a resolution proposed in June by Britain, Portugal, Germany and France were thrown into confusion after conflicting statements from Russia.

Hopes were raised when a senior diplomat said Moscow was not "categorically against" the resolutions and might accept if it did not include sanctions.

However, outside the Security Council chamber, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN envoy, told reporters the comments had been the result of a "misunderstanding" and added: "We won't accept a resolution."(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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