17 December 2012

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Alarmed by Dramatic Escalation of Violence in Syria, Mass Killings,


Secretary-General Stresses Need to Keep Borders Open


The following statement was issued on 16 December by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General is alarmed by the continued dramatic escalation of violence in Syria over the past several days and the grave danger facing civilians in areas under fire.  There have been extremely worrisome reports earlier this week of a mass killing of civilians in the village of Aqrab near Hama, as well as alleged firing of long-range missiles in some areas of the country.  Continued bombing raids by fixed-wing military aircrafts and attack helicopters on populated areas have been amply documented.  Today’s reports of aerial bombing amid intense violence resulting in many casualties among the Palestinian refugee population in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus are a matter of grave concern.

The Secretary-General firmly condemns this escalation of armed violence, in particular the shelling of population centres and attacks against civilians.  He calls on all sides to cease all forms of violence.  The Secretary-General reminds all parties in Syria that they must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians.  Targeting civilians or carrying out military operations in populated areas, in an indiscriminate or disproportionate fashion that harms civilians, is a war crime. 

The Secretary-General is grateful to neighbouring countries for their generous hosting of refugees, calls again for significant support and humanitarian assistance to those concerned and stresses the importance of keeping the borders open to all who are fleeing the violence in Syria.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the international community to make every effort to stop the tragic spiral of violence in Syria and urgently to promote an inclusive political process leading to a peaceful political transition.

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For information media • not an official record