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UN, April 08. /ITAR-TASS/. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the conflicting parties in Syria to ensure protection of all civilians in the country despite their religious or ethnic belonging, a statement from the secretary general’s press office said on Tuesday.
“In the face of troubling new reports of atrocities in the brutal conflict driving Syria to its destruction, the Secretary-General demands that warring parties and their supporters ensure that civilians are protected, regardless of their religion, community or ethnic affiliation,” the statement said. His call on the conflicting sides in Syria comes in the wake of the killing of well-known in Syria Dutch priest Father Frans van der Lugt, 72, who was reported on Monday to be shot dead by militants in the Syrian city of Homs.
“The killing of an elderly priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, in Homs today is but the latest tragedy highlighting the urgent need to protect civilians. The Secretary-General condemns this inhumane act of violence against a man who heroically stood by the people of Syria amid sieges and growing difficulties,” the statement said. “The Secretary-General is also horrified by the gruesome images purporting executions in the Syrian town of Kassab,” the statement said. “While the United Nations is unable to confirm the validity of these reported atrocities, gross human rights violations undeniably continue and residents of entire villages such as Kassab have been forced to flee.
According to various reports, Syria’s north-western town of Kassab, predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, was attacked on March 22 by Jebhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham militants, who had crossed the border from Turkey. According to unofficial sources, 80 people were killed. “The Secretary-General is also extremely concerned that groups listed as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council continue to brutalize the civilian population,” the statement said. The UN secretary general reiterated that the ongoing violent conflict in Syria cannot “be won militarily.”
“The Secretary-General again urges all Syrians and their outside supporters to put a stop to this conflict, now,” the statement said. “For the sake of families and communities across Syria, the Secretary-General appeals to all sides to permit immediately the unfettered access of humanitarian assistance and workers.”
Fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels has left over 100,000 people dead and displaced millions since its start in 2011, according to UN statistics. In an effort to settle the Syrian crisis an international peace conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva-2, was organized by Russia and the United States and kicked off on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland. No particular progress was reported after two rounds were held in January and February 2014. The parties to the Syrian conflict agreed to continue their discussions. The Geneva Communique was adopted on June 30, 2012 at a conference of an “action group” on Syria in Geneva. That conference is now commonly referred to as “Geneva-1.” Geneva-2 is its logical continuation.