Babylon & Beyond

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SYRIA: U.N. chief phones Syrian President Assad, urges "maximum restraint"

March 26, 2011 |  3:25 am

International condemnation is still pouring in over reports that Syrian forces fired live rounds at peaceful demonstrators Friday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon phoned Syrian President Bashar Assad on Friday urging the Syrian authorities to exercise "maximum restraint" and stressing to the president that the Syrian people had expressed their opinion in a peaceful matter, according to a press statement

The U.N. chief also told Assad in their telephone conversation that governments are obliged to "respect and protect" rights of citizens.

Meanwhile, the U.N. human rights office voiced alarm over what it called the "worsening situation" in Syria and said it will follow closely the Syrian government's pledge to introduce a series of political and economic reforms. 

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva on Friday that the office was "concerned" about the use of live rounds and tear gas against peaceful demonstrators in Syria.

Also Friday, the White House condemned  violence against protesters in Syria and Yemen.

--Alexandra Sandels in Beirut