UN rights chief urges international action on Syria

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The UN human rights chief on Friday urged the international community to take action to protect civilians and prevent civil war in Syria, where more than 3,000 people have been killed since March.

"The onus is on all members of the international community to take protective action in a collective and decisive manner before the continual ruthless repression and killings drive the country into a full-blown civil war," Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

"The international community must speak with one voice and act to protect the Syrian people," she said.

"The number of people killed since the violence started in March has now exceeded 3,000, including at least 187 children," the UN rights chief said.

"More than 100 people have been reported killed in the last 10 days alone, she added.

In addition, "thousands have been arrested, detained, forcibly disappeared and tortured," Pillay said.

Family members both within and outside of Syria have also suffered harassment, intimidation, threats and beatings.

Attributing the heavy death toll to "sniping from rooftops and indiscriminate use of force against peaceful protestors," she said: "The government of Syria has manifestly failed to protect its population."

"As more members of the military refuse to attack civilians and change sides, the crisis is already showing worrying signs of descending into an armed struggle," Pillay warned.

A draft resolution put to a vote by European governments at the UN Security Council earlier this month warned of "targeted measures," but not sanctions, against the Syrian regime if it continues its crackdown. However, the resolution was vetoed by China and Russia.

© 2011 AFP

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