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UN Secretary General calls for protection of civilians in Syria

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] released a statement [text] on Saturday condemning the most recent violence in Syria, and expressing concern over how it has been affecting the civilian population. Ban called upon both parties to make greater efforts to avoid civilian casualties [UN News Centre report] and emphasized that the government of Syria has obligations to protect civilians in their territories. Ban also reminded those involved in the fighting in Syria that the international community is closely following the activities of both sides of the conflict, and those responsible for abuses will be held accountable. Specifically, Ban expressed the "gravest concern" about the recent fighting in the Western town of Al-Qusayr which has displaced more that 3,500 refugees over the last several weeks.

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile]. Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned the recent violence in Qusayr and criticized [JURIST reports] the broader human rights violations taking place in Syria. In May, Pillay called for international action [JURIST report] after a series of massacres was carried out against Syrian civilians. Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] condemned the Syrian Air Force for deliberately targeting civilians [JURIST report] in air strikes in rebel-controlled areas. In March HRW accused Syria's military [JURIST report] of using widely-banned cluster bombs against civilians.

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