UNITED NATIONS Dec 16 U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm on Sunday at the worsening violence
in Syria, including the reported mass killing of Alawites and
alleged firing of long-range missiles on Syrian territory, Ban's
"The Secretary-General is alarmed by the continued dramatic
escalation of violence in Syria over the past several days, and
the grave danger facing civilians in areas under fire," Ban's
spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said in a statement.
"There have been extremely worrisome reports earlier this
week of a mass killing of civilians in the village of Aqrab near
Hama, as well as alleged firing of long-range missiles in some
areas of the country," he said.
In the Aqrab incident, up to 200 members of President Bashar
al-Assad's Alawite minority were injured or killed in an attack
on their village in central Syria on Tuesday, opposition
activists said. The death toll was still not known.
There have also been reports of the Syrian government using
Scud missiles. NATO's U.S. commander said on Friday the alliance
was deploying the Patriot anti-missile system along Syria's
northern frontier because Assad's forces had fired Scud missiles
that landed near Turkish territory.
Nesirky said that "continued bombing raids by fixed-wing
military aircrafts and attack helicopters on populated areas
have been amply documented."
"Today's reports of aerial bombing amid intense violence
resulting in many casualties among the Palestinian refugee
population in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus are a matter of grave
concern," he said.
Activists said fighter jets had bombed the Yarmouk camp,
killing at least 25 people sheltering in a mosque.
Nesirky said Ban "calls on all sides to cease all forms of
violence. The Secretary-General reminds all parties in Syria
that they must abide by their obligations under international
humanitarian law to protect civilians."
"Targeting civilians or carrying out military operations in
populated areas, in an indiscriminate or disproportionate
fashion that harms civilians is a war crime," he added.
Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa told a Lebanese
newspaper that neither forces of President Bashar al-Assad nor
rebels can win the war in Syria. That is a view a number of U.N.
officials and diplomats have voiced privately to Reuters.
The U.N. Security Council has been incapable of taking any
meaningful action in the conflict. Veto powers Russia and China
refuse to condemn Assad or support sanctions. Assad's government
accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the United States and other
Western governments of supporting and arming the rebels, an
allegation the governments deny.
Meanwhile, U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has failed
to bridge the gaps between the Russian and U.S. positions on
Syria, which U.N. diplomats say is at the heart of the
longstanding deadlock on the Security Council.
Nesirky said Ban "reiterates his call on the international
community to make every effort to stop the tragic spiral of
violence in Syria and urgently to promote an inclusive political
process leading to a peaceful political transition."