UN chief: Syria violence 'tragic and intolerable'
31 July 2012
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has bemoaned the 'tragic and intolerable' situation in Syria amid reports that 200,000 people have fled the besieged city of Aleppo in recent days.
Government forces are attempting to quell an armed rebellion, led by the Free Syrian Army, which aims to unseat President Bashar al-Assad.
Despite a UN-backed peace plan calling for an end to violence in April, fighting has continued, with rebel groups being armed from outside the country.
The UN estimates that around two million people have now been displaced by the violence in Syria, with Red Cross estimates suggesting 200,000 fled Aleppo alone in recent days.
Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, acting head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), said observers had witnessed helicopters, tanks and artillery being used in parts of Homs.
"My observers there have reported an upsurge in the violence," Lieutenant General Gaye said. "…I call on the parties, again as stated by the Joint Special Envoy, to exercise restraint and avoid further bloodshed – it is imperative that both sides respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "More fighting is not the answer. Further militarisation of this conflict will only perpetuate the devastation and prolong the suffering. A sectarian civil war would also gravely imperil Syria's neighbours.
The "brutal crackdown" of the last 16 months had created a "tragic and intolerable" situation, Ban said.
"Each day, as the violence spirals, more Syrians are killed, injured, tortured or forced to flee their homes or their country," he said.
In the UK, Khaled al-Ayoubi, Syria's most senior diplomat in the UK, has left his post at the Syrian embassy in London.
Al-Ayoubi reportedly told Foreign Office officials he was unwilling to represent the "violent and oppressive" regime any more.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "His departure is another blow to the Assad regime. It illustrates the revulsion and despair the regime's actions are provoking amongst Syrians from all walks of life, inside the country and abroad.
"We urge others around Bashar Al-Assad to follow Mr al-Ayoubi's example; to disassociate themselves from the crimes being committed against the Syrian people and to support a peaceful and free future for Syria."