Bloomberg News

United Nations Warns of ‘Full-Blown Civil War’ Risk in Syria

October 14, 2011

Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations warned today that the repression and killings in Syria could lead to a “full- blown civil war,” and called for unified and decisive action by the international community.

At least 4,000 Syrian civilians have been killed by security forces in the seven-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. The UN published a lower estimate of more than 3,000, including at least 187 children, in an e-mailed statement today, citing its High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“The government has consistently used excessive force to crush peaceful protests,” said Pillay. “Sniping from rooftops, and indiscriminate use of force against peaceful protesters -- including the use of live ammunition and the shelling of residential neighborhoods -- have become routine occurrences in many Syrian cities.”

The European Union expanded sanctions against Syria this week in a push to end the violent crackdown on demonstrators, freezing the assets of an organization affiliated with the government. Protests against Assad’s rule started in March as part of the wave of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa that has unseated governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya this year.

The crisis in Syria is “already showing worrying signs of descending into an armed struggle,” wrote Pillay, who said she encouraged the UN Security Council to take the matter to the International Criminal Court in August.

--Editors: Ben Holland, Heather Langan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tamara Walid in Abu Dhabi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at

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