New York: An estimated 400 people, an
average of 40 a day, have been killed in Syria in the days
following the arrival of the Arab League monitors in the
country, a top UN official has said.
UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs B Lynn
Pascoe yesterday briefed the 15-nation Security Council on the
situation in Syria in a closed door meeting.
Pascoe`s briefing came the same day a defiant Syrian
President Bashar Al-Assad said he will not step down and
blamed a foreign conspiracy for the country`s nearly year-long
Later talking to reporters here, US Ambassador to the UN
Susan Rice said the briefing the Council received was
"alarming by any standard."
"The Under-Secretary-General noted that in the days since
the Arab League monitoring mission has been on the ground, in
fact, some estimated 400 additional people have been killed,
an average of 40 a day, a rate much higher than was the case
before their deployment," Rice said.
Further, at least two of the monitors of the Arab League
have also been "roughed up, harmed, harassed" while they were
carrying out their work.
According to the United Nations, more than 5,000 people
have been killed since the anti-government protests began last
March. Syrian government, however, says 2000 security
personnel were killed by armed terrorists.
She said the unabated violence is a clear indication that
the Syrian government is not using the opportunity of its
commitment to the Arab League to end violence but is instead
"carrying out further acts of brutality against its population
even often in the presence of those monitors."
Rice said Assad should step aside and pave the way for a
democratic government in keeping with the wishes of the Syrian
"Unfortunately, rather than take that approach, we heard
the vitriol of President Assad`s speech today and further
belittling by him of the Arab League, which we found
In response to Assad`s claims that the uprising in his
country was the handiwork of a foreign conspiracy, Rice said
for him to make such claims "is frankly an insult to the
people of Syria who are dying on the streets at the hands of
their own government as they try to bring about, through
peaceful means, a more responsive government."
Rice said it is high time the UN Security Council passes
a strong resolution that supports the Arab League and
considers putting sanctions on the Syrian regime.
Countries like Russia and China are, however, not in
favour of imposing sanctions on Assad`s regime, as they
believe government rebels are equally to be blamed for the