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Death Toll in Syria Rising
Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that more than 8,000 people have been killed in Syria over the last year because of the violent repression against President Bashar Assad. Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the uprising, in which the chief from the United Nations increased the death toll from 7,500 in a statement released.
Ban pleaded with the government and its opposition to cooperate with an international envoy led by Kofi Annan in an effort to end the carnage and come to a political resolution. As a side note, the foreign minister of France has rejected requests for weapons by the Syrian rebel forces. The foreign minister said that arming the opposition to the Syrian government could result in civil war that could turn catastrophic.
One of Syria’s most powerful allies, Russia, has asked for no more new sanctions or international actions in the country but is offering its support of Annan, who is trying to stop the violence and bloodshed. After recently being defeated by government troops, rebel forces have been asking for new weapons from various countries. Countries such as France and the United States seem to be hesitant when it comes to getting involved in another conflict after the NATO airstrikes against Libya.
“The Syrian people are deeply divided, and if we give arms to a certain faction of the Syrian opposition, we would make a civil war among Christians, Alawites, Sunnis and Shiites,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
Syria was once ruled by France when it was one of France’s colonies. France is in favor of the opposition against Assad and is asking for his departure from office but Juppe said that giving the opposition weapons could cause “a catastrophe even larger than the one that exists today.”
The comments issued by Juppe are along the same lines as those made by President Barack Obama on Wednesday of this week. Obama warned that a response from international nations could lead to more unnecessary deaths in the conflict.
“Our natural instinct is to act,” Obama said. “It’s very important for us to make sure that we have thought through all of our actions before we take those steps.”
“Send us money, we’re desperate. Send us weapons,” Ahmad Kassem said. Kassem coordinates operations for the rebel Free Syrian Army. “We don’t need fighters. We have excess men who can fight, but we need weapons to protect our land and honor.”