Syria is now in a state of civil war with more than 4,000 dead and increasing numbers of defecting soldiers taking up arms against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the top United Nations human rights official said on Thursday.
Pro-Assad rally this week (Photo: EPA)
"We are placing the figure at 4,000, but really the reliable information coming to us is that it is much more than that," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a news conference.
"I have said that as soon as there were more and more defectors threatening to take up arms, I said this in August before the Security Council, there was going to be a civil war. At the moment that's how I am characterising this," she said.
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Earlier Thursday, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions against two Syrian officials and two firms for supporting the Syrian government and urged more pressure to bring an end to violence against protesters.
The treasury blacklisted Muhammad Makhluf, an uncle of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, and Aus Asla who was described as a general in the Syrian military and said Americans are banned from any dealings with them.
Anti-Assad protest in Syria (Photo: AP)
It also named the Military Housing Establishment as a Syrian government-controlled company that provides financing to the regime and Real Estate Bank, which Treasury said handles borrowing for the government. Americans are prohibited from any dealings with the firms.
The treasury said it was critical to escalate pressure against the Syrian government to stop the use of brutal tactics against pro-democracy protesters.
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