New York: The UN is to send a humanitarian mission to Syria on Saturday to assess the situation there after Damascus’ violent crackdown on protesters. The UN humanitarian chief said Damascus had pledged the mission “will have full access to where we want to go”.Earlier, the US and several major EU nations urged Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Syria has repeated that army operations against protesters have ended, a claim not independently verified.
Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said it was “already a fact on the ground, the military and police operations stopped in Syria”.
President Assad had said the same in a phone call with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Mr Ja’afari also accused the US of waging a “diplomatic and humanitarian war” against Syria together with some other UN Security Council members.
Human rights groups believe about 2,000 people have been killed and thousands arrested since March as Syria’s security forces – including tanks, helicopters, gunships and snipers – try to quell dissent that has broken out in much of the country.
President Assad has promised political reforms but has continued to clamp down on the protesters, blaming the unrest on “terrorist groups”.
On Thursday, UN Humanitarian Affairs chief Valerie Amos said that the UN mission would begin its visit to Syria on Saturday.
“We have been guaranteed that we will have full access,” she said.