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MIDEAST > Syria now in civil war: UN official

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Syria is now in a full-scale civil war, U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said, while Damascus denied the claims saying that it is fighting against the “terrorists.”
 
The U.N. peacekeeping chief told reporters that there was an escalation in violence in Syria as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces seek to regain control of “large chunks of territory” they had lost to the opposition.

Asked whether he believed Syria is in a civil war, he said: “Yes I think we can say that. I think there is a massive increase in the level of violence, so massive indeed that in a way it indicates some change of nature.” His comments marked the first time a U.N. official has openly spoken of civil war in Syria.

An opposition group, the Syrian Revolution General Commission, however, denied the civil war claims of the U.N. saying that this remarks “makes the killer and the victim equal and ignores all the massacres committed by the Assad regime.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said yesterday that the situation in Syria had reached a “critical juncture” and expressed its “great concern.”Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that Syria is in a state of civil war. France will propose making U.N. peace plan for Syria obligatory by invoking the U.N.’s “Chapter 7” provision, which can authorize the use of force, he also said.

Syrian troops regain Haffa

Syria’s government said yesterday it has “cleansed terrorists” from Haffa, a Sunni enclave feared to be the site of a new massacre. The rebel Free Syrian Army said its fighters pulled out of Haffa in a tactical move to spare civilians of the beleaguered northwestern town after an eight-day regime bombardment.
 
On the ground, at least 15 people were killed as troops and rebels clashed across the country, said activist groups. “The authorities pursued the remaining terrorists in the villages surrounding Al-Haffe” where they “killed and arrested a number of them,” SANA news agency said.

Compiled from AP, AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

June/14/2012

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