Ban scolds world powers on Syria as fighting ragesView(s):
ALEPPO, Syria, Aug 4 (AFP) UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned world powers they must overcome their rivalries to put an end to the “proxy war” in Syria, as deadly fighting raged in Damascus and the country’s second city Aleppo.
Ban spoke on Friday ahead of a UN General Assembly vote that overwhelmingly condemned the Security Council for its failure to act and slammed President Bashar al-Assad’s use of “heavy weapons” in the nearly 17-month civil war.
Shells rained down on rebel positions in Aleppo as fighting was reported in Syria’s commercial capital and in Damascus, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting at least 70 people killed across the country.
At the same time, new weekly anti-regime protests were held across Syria in solidarity with the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, which troops have pounded for weeks.The day’s slogan was “Deir Ezzor — victory comes from the east”, and the Observatory reported claims that 70 percent of the strategic oil-producing province that borders Iraq was now in rebel hands.
In Aleppo, hundreds gathered in Al-Shaar neighbourhood chanting: “The people want the execution of Bashar!” and “The people want freedom and peace,” an AFP reporter at the scene said.As jet fighters and helicopter gunships swooped over the city, the Observatory reported demonstrations in several neighbourhoods and fierce clashes in the rebel-held Salaheddin district.
A Syrian security source said troops were “testing the terrorists’ defence systems… before annihilating them by carrying out a surgical operation”. In Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry expressed serious concern over rebel attempts to gain control of Aleppo and condemned foreign nations for providing the opposition with military supplies.
At the General Assembly, Ban evoked the UN’s failure in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and warned the divided Security Council that “the immediate interests of the Syrian people must be paramount over any larger rivalries of influence”.
The secretary general said growing radicalisation and extremism had been predicted at the start of the conflict in March 2011. “The next step was also forewarned: a proxy war, with regional and international players arming one side or the other. All of these dire predictions have come to pass,” Ban told the General Assembly.
He turned his fire on the Security Council, which he said had become “paralysed” by divisions over Syria. “Now, with the situation having worsened, they must again find common ground,” Ban said.After his address, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a Saudi-drafted resolution criticising the Security Council’s failure to act and condemning Assad’s use of heavy weapons.
The resolution said members deplored “the Security Council failure to agree on measures” to make the Syrian government carry out UN demands to end almost 18 months of fighting.The resolution, which condemned President Bashar al-Assad’s use of “heavy weapons including indiscriminate shelling from tanks and helicopters”, was passed by 133 votes with 12 countries against and 31 abstaining.
48 Iran pilgrims abducted
TEHRAN, Aug 4 (AFP) Forty-eight Iranian pilgrims were kidnapped from a bus in the Syrian capital on Saturday, their embassy’s consular chief in Damascus told Iran’s state television.
“Armed terrorist groups kidnapped 48 Iranian pilgrims on their way to the airport,” Majid Kamjou told the IRIB network, which gave the report on its website.”There are no reports about the fate of the pilgrims. The embassy and Syrian officials are trying to trace the kidnappers,” he said.
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