The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday spoke of an “imminent” danger of civil war in Syria, while the international envoy Kofi Annan decided to increase pressure on Damascus to end 15 months of violence.
Western diplomats said the Security Council heard a simple message from Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon: it’s time to hit the government of President Bashar al-Assad by sanctions.
The Syrian opposition, Arab and Western countries who want the overthrow al Assad appear increasingly inclined to consider Annan’s peace plan to end the conflict as “outdated” due to the growing use of military force to crush the revolt. “The Syrian people bleed. They are angry. they want peace and dignity. And above all, they want action,” said Ban Ki-moon to the press.
He was speaking after a meeting behind closed doors, which lasted three hours to discuss the crisis in the aftermath of another massacre in the town of Mazraat al Qoubir, where 78 civilians were killed. “The danger of civil war is imminent and real,” said Ban Ki-moon. “Terrorists thrive on chaos.”
The Security Council examines several scenarios to settle the Syrian crisis, including the adoption of additional measures, Ban Ki-moon stated. “These are valuable ideas, but they are all in phase of gestation in terms of participants, values and goals,” Ban said. Among others, these include the initiative to hold an international conference on Syria, as proposed by Russia. Other Council members have proposed to create contact groups.
According to Kofi Annan, the Security Council discussed measures to save his plan and the consequences in case of a failure. “If it does not work, we will find other solutions,” said the envoy, adding that the increased militarization of the conflict would lead to catastrophic consequences.
Earlier, during a special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to the Syrian crisis, Ban Ki-moon said he was “shocked and sickened” by reports about the killing , citing an “unspeakable barbarism” .
The Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, for his part, denounced the “horrible and unjustifiable massacre.” Damascus blames the killings on “terrorist groups” backed by Islamists abroad.