Aki/English > Politics > Syria: Italian minister accuses army of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing
Syria: Italian minister accuses army of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing
last update: July 23, 14:56
Brussels, 23 July (AKI) - The Syrian army is committing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing of the population in its bid to quell the revolt against president Bashar al-Assad, Italy's foreign minister Giulio Terzi has claimed.
Speaking in Brussels where European Union foreign ministers Monday beefed up sanctions and an arms embargo against the Syrian government, Terzi said: "This is an absolutely unprecedented assault, a massacre of its own people."
"The army has gone far beyond the level of repression we have seen other countries that have risen up in the Arab Spring... this has the whiff of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."
The Assad regime dominated by the minority Alawite sect has drawn international condemnation for its bloody repression of the 16-month rebellion against its rule in which as many as 19,000 people may have been killed.
The Red Cross has defined the situation as a civil war and there have been reports of sectarian killings, massacres and torture.
The United Nations Security Council last Thursday extended its observation mission in Syria for another month but Terzi ruled out Nato intervention.
Despite the bloodshed, Terzi claimed the situation in Syria was not comparable to that in Libya last year when the UN authorised a Nato operation that helped rebels oust longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi from power.
The EU Monday agreed to freeze the assets of 26 Syrians and three firms close to Assad in the 17th round of sanctions and to inspect vessels and planes suspected of carrying arms, diplomats said.
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