Ban Ki-moon accuses Syrian regime of potential crimes against humanity

UN secretary general demands end to indiscriminate force against civilians as troops loyal to government fight rebels

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon accused the Syrian regime of potential crimes against humanity on Thursday as activists reported fresh violence in Deraa, the city where the uprising against the president, Bashar al-Assad, erupted 11 months ago.

Speaking in Vienna, Ban demanded the Syrian regime stop using indiscriminate force against civilians caught up in fighting between government troops and Assad’s opponents.

“We see neighbourhoods shelled indiscriminately, hospitals used as torture centres, children as young as 10 years old chained and abused,” he said. “We see almost a certain crime against humanity.”

Syrian activists said government forces attacked Deraa on Thursday, arresting people and shooting randomly.

They also reported intense clashes between army defectors and government troops in the central province of Hama, 200 miles from Deraa.

The push into Deraa in the south of the country followed military action in Hama and Homs and appears to be part of an effort by the regime to extinguish major pockets of dissent.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said security forces killed at least one civilian in Deraa and at least three regime soldiers died.

The deadliest fighting took place in the village of Kfar Naboudeh in Hama province where government forces killed 10 defectors and four civilians, according to SOHR.

The group said the defectors attacked an army checkpoint near the Hama town of Soran, killing four soldiers.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, another activist group, said 40 people were killed throughout the country on Thursday, 13 of them in Hama province.

The UN general assembly is to vote on an Arab-sponsored resolution strongly condemning human rights violations by the Syrian regime and backing an Arab League plan aimed at ending the conflict.

While general assembly resolutions are non-binding, they do reflect world opinion on major issues and supporters are hoping for a high “yes” vote to deliver a strong message to Assad’s regime. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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