UN chief urges stronger global action on Syria's Assad
UN Secretary-General Ban expressed frustration about the lack of unity among UN members on how best to deal with Syria's brutal crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising.
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon today urged the international community to take stronger action against Syria, expressing frustration with a lack of unity among UN members about how best to deal with President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising.
Mr. Ban has tried for months through diplomatic means to force the regime force the regime to abandon its crackdown and acquiesce to protesters' demands for reform, securing a pledge from Mr. Assad when the two last spoke on Aug. 17 to halt the violence. But dozens more protesters have since been killed in clashes with Syrian security forces, and Ban said it was "too late" for Assad to correct his course, the Associated Press reports.
Ban, speaking from the sidelines of a meeting in New Zealand today, declined to discuss the possibility of a military intervention, however.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime is engaged in a nationwide manhunt for a high-level official who may have defected from the Assad regime last week – the attorney general of Hama, one of the centers of rebellion. In a recent YouTube video, Adnan Bakkour said he defected in protest because security forces had killed hundreds of civilians during a siege on his city last month, Voice of America reports.
If the defection is legitimate, it would be the highest-level defection from the regime yet. But the Syrian regime claims that Mr. Bakkour was kidnapped by "terrorists" and coerced into making the videos that falsely announced his defection.
Security forces have detained activists across the country in hopes of extracting information on the whereabouts of Bakkour. Activists say he has now fled the country.
In yet another recording posted online, Bakkour said his convoy was attacked on Friday in Idlib province, near the Turkish border (see map), the Associated Press reports. Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for the activist network the Local Coordination Committees, said that Bakkour is now "safely out of the country," but that security forces were still searching for him around Hama and Idlib.