Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke out today against the reported killing of dozens of protesters in Syria, urging Government authorities to immediately end their military operations against civilians and answer the people''s call for reforms.
Media reports indicate about 40 people have been killed over the past day in Homs and Hama in central Syria, taking the overall death toll since widespread public protests began seven months ago to well over 3,000.
The protests are part of a wider pro-democracy uprising across North Africa and the Middle East this year that has toppled long-standing regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson earlier today Mr. Ban condemned the latest killings.
"The Secretary-General believes the calls of the Syrian people for change must be answered with far-reaching reforms, not repression and violence," the statement noted.
"He appeals for military operations against civilians to stop at once, and for the release of all political prisoners and those detained in connection to their participation in the popular protests. He emphasizes that violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately."
Mr. Ban and other senior United Nations officials, including Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have repeatedly voiced concern about the Government''s response to the protests since the uprising began.