Amid heavy fighting in Homs, Ban calls on Syrian parties to avoid civilian casualties
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today renewed his call on the parties to the conflict in Syria to avoid civilian casualties, voicing grave concern about the situation in the city of Homs, where an estimated 2,500 people remain trapped amid heavy fighting.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he is “following with grave concern” the escalating conflict in the country, where more than 93,000 people have been killed since fighting began in March 2011 between the Syrian Government and opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad.
“The Secretary-General calls on the warring sides to do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties and to allow immediate humanitarian access, as well as opportunities for trapped civilians to leave without fear of persecution,” said the statement.
According to media reports, Syrian Government forces launched a major offensive over the weekend to retake several rebel-controlled districts of Homs.
Mr. Ban also expressed his concern over threats to seize two Shiite villages in the northern province of Aleppo.
In addition, he called again for stopping the supply of arms to all sides and appealed to the parties in Syria and their supporters to focus instead on the search for a political solution that remains the only way out of the ongoing tragedy.