Car used in suicide bombing

UN chief 'gravely concerned' over Syria escalation

After two explosions in Damascus kill at least 44 people, Ban stresses need for 'inclusive, legitimate' political change in Syria; Arab League monitors set to arrive Monday

UN leader Ban Ki-moon is "gravely concerned" at escalating violence in Syria but the onus is on President Bashar Assad to fully carry out an Arab League peace plan, a spokesman said Friday.


Ban spoke out as the UN Security Council stepped up wrangling over a resolution on the Syria crisis. While the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in the government crackdown, the Security Council has failed to agree any formal resolution on Syria.


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Suicide bombers hit two security service bases in Damascus earlier, killing at least 44 people and injuring over 150 in attacks the government blamed on al-Qaeda but which the opposition said were the work of Assad's forces.


The UN secretary-general "is gravely concerned at the escalating violence in Syria," his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.


"Today's explosions in Damascus, which resulted in more deaths and injuries, underscore his growing concerns. He emphasizes that all violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately."



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Despite the latest attacks, Ban stressed the need for "credible, inclusive and legitimate" political change in Syria.


He said the government must "fully and speedily" implement the Arab League peace plan and he welcomed the arrival Arab League monitors in Damascus.


Western diplomats have expressed skepticism that the monitors will be allowed to work effectively. Ban said he "looks forward to the deployment of the full-scale observer mission, which must be given unhindered access."


US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement, "It is crucial that today's attack not impede the critical work of the Arab League monitoring mission to document and deter human rights abuses with the goal of protecting civilians.


"We hope that this mission will proceed unfettered in an atmosphere of non-violence," he added.


The 15-member Security Council meanwhile held new talks on a draft Russian resolution on Syria that the United States and European nations say is not tough enough on the Assad government.


Building hit by one of the blasts (Screenshot)


Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said European nations had unacceptable changes that backed their "regime change" agenda.


Meanwhile, Egypt's state news agency reported on Friday that the first batch of 50 Arab League monitors will head to Syria next week to assess whether Damascus is abiding by an Arab peace plan to end a nine-month crackdown on protesters.


"The mission of Arab League monitors will leave for Syria this Monday under the leadership of (Sudanese general) Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi," Arab League deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Helli was quoted by Egypt's Middle East news agency as saying. The mission would comprise more than 50 people, he said.


The announcement followed a meeting between Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby and the head of the monitoring team to discuss the details of the mission, the agency said. Further discussions would be completed Saturday, it said.


AFP, Reuters contributed to the report



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פרסום ראשון: 12.23.11, 22:57
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