Bomb kills 35; UN chief demands arms embargo on Syria

June 21, 2014 - 1:19:48 am

damascus/NEW YORK: A massive truck bomb claimed by rebels killed at least 35 people yesterday in a government-controlled village in the central Syrian province of Hama, state news agency Sana reported.

More than 50 people were wounded in the blast in Al Horra, Sana said, blaming the attack on rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Al Assad.

The Islamic Front, a rebel coalition, claimed responsibility for the attack. It said on Twitter that a radio-controlled bomb had targeted a “gathering of Assad militia”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 38 people were killed, most of them civilians including women and children, as well as security personnel. It also said more than 40 were wounded. 

Meanwhile. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday urged the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Syria, in a rallying cry for international action to end the country’s devastating civil war.

The South Korean diplomat outlined a six-point agenda demanding an immediate end to the violence, unfettered humanitarian access and a principled — and united — international response.

The conflict, which has now killed more than 160,000 people, has paralysed the UN Security Council, riven by sharp disagreements between Western nations and Damascus ally Russia.

“It is essential to stem the flow of arms pouring into the country,” Ban said in a speech at the Asia Society in New York.

“It is irresponsible for foreign powers and groups to give continued military support to parties in Syria that are committing atrocities.”

“I urge the Security Council to impose an arms embargo. If divisions in the Council continue to prevent such a step, I urge countries to do so individually,” he added. “Syria’s neighbours should enforce a firm prohibition on the use of their land borders and airspace for arms flows and smuggling into Syria.”

Iran and Russia are the main arms providers to the Syrian government, as Gulf states are to the opposition. Diplomats believe Russia would almost certainly veto any proposed arms embargo.

Four Western resolutions on Syria have been vetoed by Russia on the Security Council, blocking efforts to enforce the delivery of aid and refer both sides to the International Criminal Court.

Ban spoke of his “anger and disappointment” at calculations that so little can be done, saying the world must not abandon Syrians and the region “to never-ending waves of cruelty.”

International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi resigned at the end of May after two rounds of peace talks yielded no concrete results and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected in June.

Ban said the election did “not meet even minimal standards for credible voting” and that he would soon name a new envoy, admitting that he or she “will not be able to wave a magic wand.”

Ban said those who oppose the International Criminal Court but who claim to support accountability must present “credible alternatives,” adding perpetrators must be called to account.