U.N. chief ‘deplores’ Syria border clashes
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he deplores the cross-border shootings from Syria into Turkey and Lebanon ahead of a ceasefire deadline in the yearlong conflict that has pushed Syria to the brink of civil war.
Turkey said two officials working in a refugee camp near the country’s border with Syria were among five people wounded on Monday by gunfire coming from Syria as troops clashed with rebels nearby. Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed television channel said Syrian soldiers fatally shot a cameraman as he stood on the Lebanese side of the border.
“The secretary-general is alarmed by the reports of continued violence and human rights violations in Syria, which resulted in an increased flow of refugees into neighboring countries,” Ban’s office said in a statement.
“The secretary-general strongly deplores today’s fatal cross-border shootings from Syria into Turkey, as well as into Lebanon,” it said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to stop the use of heavy weapons and withdraw troops from towns by Tuesday as part of a U.N.-backed peace plan brokered by U.N. Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
Annan has said the government and opposition must stop fighting at 6 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) on Thursday, if Damascus meets its first deadline 48 hours earlier.
The United Nations says Assad’s forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the past year in his attempts to crush pro-democracy demonstrations across the country. Syria told the world body last week that 6,044 had died, including 2,566 soldiers and police.
The U.N. Security Council, including China and Syria’s staunch ally Russia, on Thursday unanimously adopted a statement endorsing the deadlines for an end to the Syria conflict and warning Damascus it would consider further steps if it failed to live up to its commitments.
Assad on Sunday said his foes must give written guarantees they would stop fighting and lay down their arms – a demand that was immediately rejected.
“The timeline for the complete cessation of violence endorsed by the Security Council must be respected by all without condition,” Ban’s office said.
Western diplomats have expressed skepticism about Assad’s intentions, noting he has broken previous promises to halt military action against civilian protesters.
Editing by Sandra Maler and Bill Trott