UN warns of civil war as Syrian Army deaths climb
Concerns are mounting that Syria's uprising could descend into civil war as clashes between Syrian Army soldiers and protesters intensify.
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The United Nations' top human rights official warned on Friday that the "ruthless repression" of the Syrian regime could develop into a "full-blown civil war." Citing a death toll that they say has now topped 3,000, UN officials called for international action to protect Syrian protesters.
While antigovernment protesters are still dying in high numbers, the numbers of Syrian soldiers who are dying are creeping higher as well, signaling that the uprising is sliding into a two-sided, armed fight.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 25 of the 36 people killed in clashes Friday were Syrian Army soldiers, Agence France-Presse reports. The group said it was surprised "at the silence of the Syrian authorities on the killings of dozens of regular Army soldiers in the past few days."
Many of the clashes have been between Army soldiers and Army deserters who switched sides because they were unwilling to fire on protesters, according to the human rights group. Protesters called for demonstrations today in support of the defected soldiers. The US and Europe have warned repeatedly that without reform, the protest movement, not just its Army deserter supporters, will turn to violence.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, would not suggest what international action should be taken, and said the question of a military intervention was up to the UN Security Council, not her. "That obviously is for states to decide. What has been done so far is not producing results and people continue to be killed virtually every single day," her spokesman said, according to Reuters.
However, this summer Ms. Pillay encouraged the Security Council to refer several Syrian officials to the International Criminal Court to be tried for crimes against humanity – a step that preceded the UN-approved intervention in Libya.