The United Nations Security Council condemned the Syrian government for the continuing violence and human-rights abuses during President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on protesters, in which dozens have been killed in the last week alone.
In a statement read by the council's president on Wednesday, the panel denounced "the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities." It called for an “immediate end to all violence and [urged] all sides to act with restraint and refrain from reprisals, including attacks against state institutions.”
Wednesday’s presidential statement escalates the diplomatic pressure on Damascus, which finds itself increasingly isolated as photos and videos of the violence in cities like Hama, a flash point for protests, continue to spread around the world. Russia and China, which opposed an earlier Security Council resolution on the violence, signed onto the new measure and indicated that they might be willing to back tougher ones in the future. Still, the immediate impact of the presidential statement is unclear. It carries no sanctions or enforcement mechanisms, which means the Assad government can flout it without fear of consequences.
More than 100 people were killed on Sunday across Syria, The Washington Post reported, making it the second-bloodiest day since popular protests against Assad began in March. Syrian troops launched an attack on protesters in Hama and other towns. Dozens more protesters have been reported killed in the last few days.
The Syrian government must alleviate the humanitarian crisis by "ceasing the use of force in affected towns," the council's statement said. Those "responsible for the violence must be held accountable."
As the crackdown continues, the Obama administration has also been progressively hardening its rhetoric toward Assad's government. "Assad has lost his legitimacy with the Syrian people. Syria will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.