Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has told UN chief Ban Ki-moon that his army's deadly raids on protest towns have stopped. However, activists said Syrian troops have shot dead nine people in the central city of Homs.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees, a group that documents anti-regime protests, the latest shooting took place in the city of Homs. The groups claimed most of it occurred late Wednesday.
Ban spoke to Assad by telephone ahead of a Security Council meeting on Thursday. The UN chief "expressed alarm at the latest reports of continued widespread violations of human rights and excessive use of force by Syrian security forces against civilians across Syria," deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said, according to AFP.
Ban "emphasized that all military operations and mass arrests must cease immediately. President Assad said that the military and police operations had stopped," according to the spokesman.
The United Nations said Assad "enumerated the reforms he will undertake in the next few months" including constitutional change and elections, while Ban stressed that such steps must go ahead "without further military intervention." Ban urged Damascus to give full cooperation to a UN human rights inquiry in Syria, the spokesman said, and demanded Assad launch "a credible and peaceful process of reform."
Assad reportedly agreed to receive a UN humanitarian mission which Ban said must "be provided with independent and unhindered access to all areas," while the president offered "access to different sites in Syria," the spokesman said.