United Nations: Two special advisers to UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon say there is "a serious
possibility" that crimes against humanity have been committed
in Syria and are continuing to take place.
Francis Deng, the adviser on preventing genocide, and
Edward Luck, the advisor of the right to protect civilians
caught in armed conflict, expressed alarm in a joint statement
today "at persistent reports of widespread and systematic
human rights violations by Syrian security forces responding
to anti-government protests across the country."
They said "the scale and gravity of the violations
indicate a serious possibility" of crimes against humanity.
The advisers called for an independent investigation
of events and urged the Syrian government to allow
humanitarian and human rights experts into the country.
In Paris, the foreign ministry spokesman said
yesterday of the Homs clampdown that the army should protect
the people rather than "sow terror."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was
"appalled" by the killings of civilians and the "brutal
violence in Homs," saying the people have been calling for
change and Assad "must listen to them."
More than 50 people have been killed in central Homs
in the past week, activists have said, accusing the regime of
sowing sectarian strife among the city`s Christian, Sunni
Muslim and Assad`s Alawite minority community.
Activists had called for yesterday`s demonstrations on
Facebook group The Syrian Revolution 2011, a driving force
behind the anti-regime protests, to show support for the
The Internet group also called for a general strike
More than 1.2 million Syrians demonstrated in the
eastern oil hub of Deir Ezzor and Hama in the north, the head
of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman,
said in Nicosia.
"More than 1.2 million people marched: in Deir Ezzor
there were more than 550,000, and in Hama more than 650,000,"
he said. Syrian state television said only 2,000 rallied in
In Homs, more than 25,000 people gathered in Al-Ulu
park in the mostly Sunni Muslim Al-Khalidiyeh neighbourhood,
the Observatory said.
Security forces used violence to disperse
demonstrators with eight deaths reported in Homs, in Syria`s
second city Aleppo, in Idlib near the Turkish border and
around Damascus, activists said.
Homs has spearheaded dissent against the Assad regime
since pro-democracy protests erupted on March 15.
The army swept through Homs this week arresting "armed
men" who the government blame for the violence in the country
and confiscating "stockpiles of weapons," the pro-government
daily Al-Watan has said.
Meanwhile state news agency SANA said a train driver
was killed and several passengers hurt when their train
derailed today morning after the track was sabotaged.
"At dawn, groups of saboteurs targeted a train running
from Aleppo to Damascus. They dismantled the rails and the
train ran off the tracks" near Homs, SANA said.