A group of United Nations observers have been fired upon while attempting to visit the site of an alleged massacre by pro-government militia in the Syrian village of Qubair.
The group, who are in the country as part of Kofi Annan's failed six-point peace plan, were forced to leave the area during the incident on Jun 7, but are set to attempt to return today.
The UN has 297 observers in Syria as part of Annan's plan, which was supposedly agreed by all sides in April, but no side in the ongoing unrest appears to have stuck to the pledges, including a ceasefire and withdrawal from population centres.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, has warned that the country could be set to descend into civil war, and added that reports of a massacre in Qubair underscored "the horrifying reality on the ground".
"How many more times have we to condemn them, and how many ways must we say that we are outraged?" he told reporters. "The Syrian people are bleeding, they are angry, but they want peace and dignity. Above all they all want action."
He added: "Sria can quickly go from a tipping point to breaking point. The danger of full-scale civil war is imminent and real, with catastrophic consequences for Syria and the region. We see little evidence that the regime is complying with its commitment under the six-point plan endorsed by the security council more than two months ago."
On Wednesday, European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton condemned the latest violence, saying it was "totally unacceptable and unforgivable that any party to the Syrian conflict, either government or opposition forces, continues to commit these heinous acts of violence against innocent Syrian citizens".
She called on the international community to "united behind a political process leading to a democratic transition" and insisted that humanitarian assistance be given "unimpeded access to all those in need".This article was first published by PublicServiceEurope.com's sister site defencemanagement.com UN observers 'shot at' in Syria
No matter how divided the UN Security Council may be because of its veto virus, when the pressure of global human conscience builds up - nothing can stand in the way of "we the people" to react in order to protect the dignity of their integral fraternity; the people of Syria. Russia and China together could do nothing for either Yugoslavia or Iraq.
They can do nothing for the Syrian leadership. If Syrian leaders think that these giants are shields for them, they have learned nothing from history. The only way ahead for Syrian leaders is to listen to the UN: admit gracefully their wrongdoing and ask earnest forgiveness from their own people and from the peoples of the world.
It is time to think clearly and act sensibly. Otherwise, when the NATO bombs backed by UN go ahead - thumbs rain on Syrian territory, no so-called friends of Syria will be around; leaving Assad alone to have the fate of Saddam Hussain visiting upon him.
The only way out for him is to step down forthwith, to apologise to Syrians and the world community, to surrender with dignified remorse and to let the UN do its task, before it is too late. I sincerely hope that common sense prevails in the minds of Syrian leaders, for they are at present definitely fighting a loosing battle; a battle against humanity that can never be won.
Prof. Dr. S.R.S. Bedi - Patiala, India, Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law