UNHCR pays rare attention to Syria

Libya, Yemen continue to smolder

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29 Apr 2011
UNHCR pays rare attention to Syria

The UN Human Rights Council, notorious for its historical bias against Israel, will hold a rare session to examine the conduct of another Middle Eastern state on Friday when it will convene to urge Syria to desist from attacking civilian protesters.

The special session was requested by the US, whose ambassador, , Eileen Donahoe, declared on Wednesday that "the international community has been shocked by the killing of hundreds of civilians in connection with peaceful political protests [in Syria] in the past week."

The UNHRC suspended Libya's membership on 1, March and are set to vote in a few weeks on Syria's bid to become a member.

Witnesses reported a major escalation of the Assad regimes crackdown on protesters Thursday, as heavy machine gun fire was heard in the southern city of Daraa and tanks rumbled into the coastal city of Latakia and infantry backed by armor and artillery deployed on the outskirts of several other cities, including suburbs of Damascus. Protest leaders have called for another "Day of Rage" after prayers on Friday - one that could prove to be the largest yet.

There are also reports of dissention and even mutiny among some army units, as Sunni troops have been reluctant to open fire on their co-religionists on the orders of their Alawite officers.

Also on Thursday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, announced that the site in northern Syria destroyed by an Israeli airstrike five years ago was definitely a nuclear reactor which Syria had attempted to build in violation of its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Other UN officials have demanded that Syria allow access to Daraa and other cities so that investigations into reports of human rights violations can be conducted, but so far the Assad regime has not responded.

Elsewhere in the Arab world, witnesses reported that intense battles have continued between protesters and troops loyal to different factions in Yemen and in Libya NATO aircraft have continued strikes against forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gadaffi, who have also intensified their artillery and missile attacks against rebels and civilian neighborhoods in rebel held cities.


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