Syria government forces are still carrying out ‘massive’ rights abuses and ‘established terrorist groups’ are suspected in many deadly attacks, says UN leader Ban Ki-moon in a grim assessment of the conflict.
Syrian groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad now control “significant” parts of some cities and the risk of all-out conflict is growing, UN leader Ban Ki-moon warned.
Syria government forces are still carrying out “massive” rights abuses, opposition rebels are stepping up their operations and “established terrorist groups” are suspected in many deadly attacks, Ban said in a grim new assessment of the 15-month-old conflict.
“There is a continuing crisis on the ground, characterized by regular violence, deteriorating humanitarian conditions, human rights violations and continued political confrontation,” said his report, which is to be debated by the UN Security Council next week.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is also expected to visit Damascus for the second time next week in a bid to boost his flagging peace plan. The UN now estimates that 10,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Assad.
The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) has “observed the considerable physical destruction resulting from the conflict in many locations, with some opposition areas heavily damaged,” Ban said.
UNSMIS also states that “significant parts of some cities appear to be under the de facto control of opposition elements.”
The UN leader did not estimate how much territory opposition groups control, but he did stress the “overall atmosphere of tension, mistrust and fear.”
The sense of an entrenched conflict had also come out of contacts with officials on all sides by Annan and his deputies.
“There is a growing impatience with the status quo but also a lack of confidence in the possibility of genuine transition,” Ban’s report said.
“While many fear the implications of a further militarization of the conflict, some have doubts that peaceful change is possible.”
A cessation of hostilities officially started on April 12, but neither government forces nor the opposition have implemented Annan’s six-point peace plan. Government forces have still not withdrawn heavy weapons and troops from cities, Ban said.
There are now more than 275 unarmed military observers in Syria. UN convoys have been hit by at least five bomb attacks and regularly been fired at as their presence has grown, according to the report.
The presence of observers in at least seven centers across Syria has had “a calming effect” but the report said “the overall level of violence remains quite high.”
Ban has expressed alarm at the presence of “third force” terrorists worsening the chance of an accord between the government and the opposition.
His report highlighted an increase in bombings in cities such as Damascus, Hama, Aleppo, Idlib and Deir al-Zor. Scores of civilians have been killed by suicide bombers and car bombs.
“The sophistication and size of the bombs point to a high level of expertise, which may indicate the involvement of established terrorist groups,” the UN leader said. He did not name any specific group but said recently he feared Al-Qaeda was involved.
Ban warned countries against providing the government or rebels with military aid.
“Encouragement to any party in Syria to pursue objectives through the use of violence is inconsistent with our common effort,” he said.
“Those who may contemplate supporting any side with weapons, military training or other military assistance must reconsider,” he declared.
Source: World News