UN envoy calls Syria death toll 'staggering'

Lakhdar Brahimi says destruction from civil war "catastrophic" in his first comments to UN General Assembly.

    New UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has said that the death toll in Syria was "staggering" and destruction from its war "catastrophic" in his first comments to the UN General Assembly.

    Brahimi said he would go to Damascus "in a few days" and that a united international stance on Syria was "indispensable and very urgent".

    The former Algerian foreign minister, who took up his post on Saturday, said the 18-month-old war was "deteriorating steadily".

    "The death toll is staggering, the destruction is reaching catastrophic proportions and the suffering of the people is immense," he added in his brief speech to the 193-member assembly.

    "The future of Syria will be built by its people and none other," the 78-year-old diplomat added.

    "The support of the international community is indispensable and very urgent. It will only be effective if all pull in the same direction."

    Meanwhile, secretary general Ban Ki-moon has accused countries who send arms to Syria of spreading "misery" as he called on governments around the conflict-stricken state to help end the war.

    "Those who provide arms to either side are only contributing to further misery - and the risk of unintended consequences as the fighting intensifies and spreads," Ban told the 193-member UN General Assembly.

    Ban did not name any country but Russia is President Bashar al-Assad's main arms supplier while UN officials say Iran has made arms deliveries to his forces.

    The Syrian government accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming the opposition.

    The UN secretary general also accused both the Syrian government and the opposition of large-scale human rights
    violations, including torturing and reportedly executing prisoners and failing to protect civilians who are fleeing the country in record numbers.

    In prepared remarks to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Ban demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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