The United Nations’ top human rights official has called for “collective international action” to protect Syria’s civilians, warning of civil war unless what she calls the government’s “ruthless repression” is curbed.
The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stopped short of specifically calling for the UN Security Council to authorise the use of force.
She said the death toll from the pro-democracy protests now exceeded 3,000.
There are signs that the uprising is becoming increasingly militarised, with troops facing armed resistance. One opposition member in exile predicts more and more defections among army officers.
“Initially these defections were limited, both in terms of the number of soldiers and the cities where they took place,” said Abdel Raouf Darwish, speaking from Paris. “But now this phenomenon is becoming more and more threatening for the regime itself.”