It is now feared the number of people who have lost their lives in Syria’s nine month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime may be far higher than previously thought.
As more unconfirmed footage emerged of the latest fighting across the country, the government urged Syrians to vote in local elections. The opposition has described the poll as “pointless”.
In New York Germany’s Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, called on Russia and China to back Security Council action on Syria after learning of the raised death toll.
“I think it is necessary that those countries in the Security Council which are still hesitating, change their minds. I’m really shocked about what I heard, about the atrocities in Syria. 5,000 people have been killed,” he said.
In Damascus where support for President Assad is strong, polling stations appeared busy. The government says the local elections are part of a process for reform leading to parliamentary elections next year. But near Homs, which has been a focus of unrest, a blast ripped through a gas pipeline – the second such reported explosion in a week.