Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bomb Attack at National Security Headquarters in Damascus

Expressing alarm over the intensifying violence in Syria, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemns yesterday’s bomb attack at the National Security Headquarters in Damascus, according to his spokesperson.  “The Secretary-General reiterates that acts of violence committed by any party are unacceptable and a clear violation of the six-point plan,” the spokesperson added in a statement. “He is also gravely concerned about reports of the continued use of heavy weapons by the Syrian security forces, including in the Damascus area, against civilians, despite repeated Syrian government assurances that such weapons would be withdrawn.”

According to media reports, a high-level meeting was underway in the National Security Headquarters building when the attack occurred, killing and wounding Government officials. Amongst those said to have been killed are Syria’s defense minister and his deputy. Media reports also noted that the Free Syrian Army has claimed responsibility for the bombing, as has another opposition group. In addition, there have been reports of clashes between Syrian Government forces and opposition fighters in several neighbourhoods of Damascus. 

Put forward earlier this year by the Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, the six-point plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.

“The deteriorating situation in Syria underscores the extreme urgency for all sides to stop armed violence in all its forms, implement the six point plan and move swiftly towards a political dialogue and a peaceful democratic Syrian-led transition,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said.  He noted that the Secretary-General urges the Security Council to “shoulder its responsibility and take collective and effective action on the basis of UN Charter obligations and in the view of the seriousness of the situation on the ground.” 

Council members are expected to meet on Thursday to discuss the crisis in Syria, which has continued unabated since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago. The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced.  In addition, the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) – which recently suspended its regular patrols due to the escalating violence on the ground – ends on July 20, 2012, with Council members expected to decide on its future before then.  The Council established UNSMIS in April to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitor and support the full implementation of the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point peace plan.

Both Secretary-General Ban and Joint Special Envoy Annan have previously expressed the hope that the Council can reach agreement on a course of action for the situation in the Middle Eastern country.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)

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