UN says more people than expected killed in Syria
Death toll in Syria reaches 2,900.
The United Nations has raised its assessment of the number of people killed in Syria during the last seven months of unrest. According to officials, 2,900 people have been killed. This is an increase of 200 people since September 1.
Some of the victims of Syrian violence in this file photo.
Additionally, at least 12 people were killed in clashes on Thursday. The British-based human rights group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, "Seven soldiers and five deserters were killed in the clashes in villages west of Jabal al-Zawiya." They also added that dozens of others were wounded.
The latest round of fighting follows other, similar clashes earlier in the week between Syrian troops and army deserters. A large number of soldiers including high-ranking officers have deserted from the Syrian military after refusing to fire on anti-government protesters.
The deserted soldiers claimed to have established an opposition force known as the "Syrian Free Army." The soldiers are armed, but their strength is unknown. A number of them have taken refuge across the northern border, in Turkey.
Also earlier this week, Syrian tanks briefly entered Lebanon. Some analysts are concerned that the conflict in Syria could spill over into that country as well. Lebanon and Syria have a long running, close political relationship.
The situation in Syria is becoming increasingly dire. Both sides are now resorting to force as a first option. Previously the protests against the government had been peaceful. However, repeated acts of violence at the hands of the security forces have led to a virtual state of civil war in some parts of the country.
Earlier this week the UN Security Council vetoed a resolution that would condemn the violence in Syria and provide for the possibility of sanctions against the government. Russia and China vetoed the proposal, while several other countries abstained from the vote. The United States and its European allies were strong proponents of the resolution.
Despite the lack of concerted UN action, the European Union at least, is moving forward with its own set of unilateral sanctions. They have announced that they are preparing to target a Syrian commercial bank in a fresh round of sanctions. The new sanctions, according to EU diplomats, will be announced within the next few days.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: death toll, Syria, UN, human rights, protests
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