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Assad says military, police operations have stopped

08-18-2011 14:05 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad has told UN chief Ban Ki-moon in a phone call that the military and police operations had stopped in Syria, said an UN statement released on Wednesday.

"The Secretary-General emphasized that all military operations and mass arrests must cease immediately. President Assad said that the military and police operations had stopped," said the statement.

Ban expressed alarm at the latest reports of continued widespread violations of human rights and excessive use of force by Syrian security forces across Syria, including in the Al Ramel district of Lattakia, home to several thousands of Palestinian refugees, the statement said.

Ban reiterated his calls for an independent investigation into all reported killings and acts of violence, and for free access by the media. He called on the government of Syria to extend full cooperation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ban also urged President Assad to engage "in a credible and peaceful process of reform towards comprehensive change."

According to the statement, Assad enumerated in the phone conversation the reforms he will undertake in the next few months, including the revision of the Constitution and the holding of parliamentary elections. The Secretary-General emphasized the need for reforms to be implemented swiftly without further military intervention.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss the latest developments in Syria Thursday afternoon.

Ban expressed appreciation that the Syrian government had agreed to receive a UN humanitarian assessment mission, the statement said.

He stressed that it would be critical for the mission to be provided with independent and unhindered access to all areas affected by violence in order to assess the humanitarian needs of the population, and to provide assistance if needed. Assad stated that the team would have access to different sites in Syria.

Syria has been in unrest since mid March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Daraa and spread to other cities.

The Syrian authorities blamed the unrest on "armed groups and foreign conspiracy" and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated people and damaged public and private properties.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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