Syria conflict a 'tragedy of gigantic proportions'

Monday 11 March 2013 17.16
Lakhdar Brahimi said he had 'nothing to say' to the media
Lakhdar Brahimi said he had 'nothing to say' to the media

UN Special Envoy in Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has told EU foreign ministers that the violence in Syria is a "tragedy of gigantic proportions", according to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Speaking after the Brussels meeting, Mr Gilmore said Mr Brahimi advocated trying to secure Russian support for an agreed international position on the conflict.

The Tánaiste said there was "an urgency" about finding a solution given that an estimated 70,000 people had been killed, 1m refugees had fled to neighbouring states and 2m were displaced inside Syria.

He said the difficulty was that, up to this point, Russia and China have "not been agreeable" to a "robust response" to what has been taking place.

Mr Gilmore said the EU foreign ministers' discussions came at a "very important time" as the EU's relationship with Russia was on the agenda today, and would also be discussed by EU leaders at a summit this week.

He said a common position needed to be found urgently as there was an increasing danger that the conflict in Syria could spill over into neighbouring states.

Mr Brahimi's only comment to the media in Brussels was: "I have nothing to say."

Separately, in Geneva, Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said civilians there had been unnecessarily subjected to the brutality of war.

He said the parties to the conflict "failed to take the necessary precautions to spare civilians and to avoid the incidental loss of life".

Mr Pinheiro added: "Indiscriminate and widespread shelling, the regular bombardment of cities, mass killing, and the deliberate firing on civilian targets have come to characterise the daily lives of civilians in Syria."

Meanwhile, the United Nations has said it has evidence of massacres and the destruction of entire neighbourhoods in Syria.

In a report, UN investigators accuse both government and opposition forces of showing a reckless disregard for the lives of civilians.

They gave examples of recent massacres in the city of Homs, where the UN says 50 prisoners were executed by government forces and entire families were killed in their homes.

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