More Syrians killed as UN demands entry
Published Friday, December 9, 2011
Updated 7:05pm: Activists claim at least 35 people have been killed in Syria on Friday as the UN repeated its call for Syria to allow UN humanitarian relief teams entry into the strife-ridden country.
Eighteen people were killed when Syrian forces opened fire on an anti-regime rally in Homs, the opposition group, the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), said.
The remaining deaths occurred in crackdowns and clashes throughout the country, including Idlib, Hama, Daraa and the Damascus suburbs of Douma, Domeir and Saqba, according to the LCC.
The activist group said the total dead included seven children and four army defectors.
According to the latest UN figures, more than 4,000 people have been killed a government crackdown on a Syrian uprising that commenced in March.
The latest violence comes as the UN urged Damascus to grant its agencies access to the country.
"I repeat my call to the Syrian government to really let us in," said Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief.
"We are concerned about the health impact of what is going on. We don't have a very clear picture across the country because we do not have the access that will enable us to know exactly what is going on," she told reporters in Stockholm.
"If, as the government say, they have nothing to hide, then I think allowing us in to see that that is the case and to do a proper assessment of what the implications of this are for the people of Syria is absolutely critical," Amos said.
The UN call comes as talk intensifies of a possible foreign intervention to create a humanitarian buffer zone within Syria.
In the most recent sign that intervention is being considered in foreign capitals, neighbor Turkey said on Friday it could not stand by if Syria's unrest undermined Turkish security, referring to the potential mass influx of refugees.
The Turkish comments come amid rising tensions on the Syria-Turkey border this week.
Syrian forces and rebels clashed on the border earlier in the week, with the Syrian government alleging it had prevented dozens of gunmen from infiltrating its territory from Turkey.
Ankara denied it was allowing its territory to be used as a launching pad for rebel attacks on Syria.
Amos, however, questioned the practicality of establishing a buffer zone in Syria.
"If we don't know where the needs are, where are we going to set up possible humanitarian corridors or buffer zones?" she said.
Syria has barred foreign journalists except with government intervention, while objecting to UN requests to allow humanitarian teams to operate within the country.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday it had nearly tripled its budget for Syria for 2012.
It has delivered food and health supplies in major cities, including Homs, the epicenter of the revolt against President Bashar Assad and the government crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Meanwhile, Austria Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said Assad should be held accountable for human rights abuses committed in Syria.
"There can be no impunity. Assad will have to answer for his offenses," Spindelegger said after a meeting with Syrian National Council head Burhan Ghalioun in Vienna.