- (Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas)
Leaders of the United Nations gathered in Geneva for a special session on Syria, fearing the country’s civil unrest could lead to war.
President Bashar Assad, who has ruled Syria since 2000, is facing mass demonstrations as members of the country protest his leadership. Assad was elected president after his father’s death in 2000. He ran again in 2007, unopposed, and has led since.
Syrians have taken their protests to new levels due to the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. Assad faced criticism since taking office, and those loyal to him have used harsh tactics to deal with the protestors.
According to reports, more than 4,000 people have been killed and over 14,000 detained. At least 307 children have also been killed.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights told the UN: “In light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens, the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people.”
While most of the UN supports some type of intervention for Syrians, Faysal Hamoui, the Syrian ambassador, told the UN: “The Syrian problem is one that can be resolved only by Syrians…Only a domestic, national solution…is possible. The solution cannot come from the corridors of the international community.”
Human Rights Watch released a 63-page report, "WE Live As in War:’ Crackdown on Protesters in the Governorate of Homs," based on more than 110 interviews with victims and witnesses from Homs in November.
The organization said Homs has emerged as “the most restive governorate in Syria since anti-government protests erupted in mid-March.” HRW described the torture and abuse of protestors at the hands of militia loyal to Assad.
In October, the United States pulled Syrian Ambassador Robert Ford out of Syria due to “credible threats against his personal safety.”
“At this point, we can’t say when he will return to Syria,” said the State Department’s spokesperson Mark Toner.
Ford has not returned thus far.