UN Says Syria Death Toll Tops 3,500

The United Nations reported Tuesday more than 3,500 people were killed in Syria during the last eight months, with human rights officials blaming the Syrian government of violently suppressing protests.

Despite a deal with the Arab League being agreed upon last week, which promised to end the violence, a further 110 people are reported to have been killed in that period. Representatives of the League are set to meet in Egypt on Saturday to address Syria’s failure to halt the violence.

Youssef Ahmed, the Syrian ambassador to the Arab League, said Monday officials gave amnesty to roughly 500 prisoners in efforts to curb tensions, but the U.S. State Department is accusing the government of perpetuating violence on its own people.

Victoria Nuland, a representative for the department, even warned people that it might be dangerous to give themselves over to Syrian authorities.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied all such accusations, and said the violent clashes in the past year were due to “armed groups” and “terrorists” attacking security guards.

SANA news reported that Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told other diplomats, in a letter, the international scrutiny of the government is fueling fire to the conflict and encouraging more attacks.

The BBC reported Ravina Shamdasani, a representative for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, described what is happening in some of Syria’s major regions, including the central city of Homs: "Syrian troops continue to use tanks and heavy weaponry to attack residential areas in the city of Homs."

The situation is described as even worse in the Baba Amr district, where residents have been under siege for several days, and have been “deprived of food, water and medical supplies,” said Shamdasani.

The government’s decision to release prisoners was seen as the first step to reaching solutions that are more peaceful with protestors, but with the death toll continuing to rise and violent attacks still raging throughout the country, the U.N. will continue to closely monitor the developments.