Syria now in civil war | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 14, 2012

Syria now in civil war

Says UN observer chief; Russia accuses US of aiding rebels

Syria is now in a full-scale civil war, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said, as the United States accused Russia of supplying the regime of Bashar al-Assad with attack helicopters.
The UN peacekeeping chief told reporters that there was an escalation in violence in Syria as Assad's forces seek to regain control of "large chunks of territory" they had lost to the opposition.
Asked whether he believed Syria is in a civil war, he said: "Yes I think we can say that. I think there is a massive increase in the level of violence, so massive indeed that in a way it indicates some change of nature."
His comments marked the first time a UN official has openly spoken of civil war in Syria.
But the Syrian government yesterday saidit is fighting "terrorists" and not a civil war, as rebels pulled out of a besieged enclave where an eight-day bombardment had raised fears for trapped civilians.
Syria opposition also rejected the civil war claim by the UN official.
Expressing surprise at an assessment by UN peacekeeping chief that a sharp escalation in violence had changed the nature of the 15-month conflict, the foreign ministry said UN officials should remain "neutral, objective and precise".
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday accused Washington of giving arms to the rebels after his US counterpart Hillary Clinton charged that Moscow was supplying President Bashar al-Assad's regime with attack helicopters.
The raging violence has stepped up the call for outside intervention in Syria.
But Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen yesterday said that military intervention like that carried out by the Western alliance in Libya last year was "not the right path".
On the ground, at least 15 people were killed as troops and rebels clashed across the country, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
State media said government forces overran Al-Haffe, a day after UN observers came under fire trying to reach the town after the UN and opposition activists expressed fears of a massacre.
"Security and calm were restored in the area of Al-Haffe which was cleansed after armed terrorist groups assaulted citizens and vandalised and burned a number of public and private properties," SANA said.
Meanwhile, Stepping up the pressure on the Assad regime, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he would contact allies to draw up tougher sanctions against his top brass, as he too labelled the conflict a "civil war."
He added that France plans to ask the UN Security Council to make UN-Arab envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan "obligatory" under the UN Charter's Chapter VII, which allows measures to be imposed on countries under penalty of sanctions or the use of force.

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