Brahimi says Assad 'not serious about reform'

Brahimi says Assad 'not serious about reform'

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has told the UN Security Council that the Syrian civil war is worsening and the country faces a growing food crisis, envoys have said Al Jazeera reported

Brahimi told the 15-nation council on Monday that the Syrian government estimates there are 5,000 foreign fighters in the country and is increasingly portraying the conflict as a "foreign conspiracy," delegates at the closed meeting said.

According to a diplomat in the room, Brahimi gave a very downbeat assessment of the situation, saying that the situation has gone from bad to worse.

He reportedly told council members that 1.5 million people are displaced with 280,000 of them fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Brahimi was also reported to have said that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was "not serious about making reforms".

It is the first time Brahimi has briefed the Security Council since he took the job a month ago.

Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from the UN in New York, said: "The permanent five members of the Security Council are afraid that this briefing are not going to be enough to break the deadlock."

'Routine torture'

Brahimi was briefing the council about his recent visit to Damascus and the wider region, including his talks with Assad, ahead of the annual UN General Assembly gathering which begins on Tuesday.

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, painted an increasingly grim picture of the 18-month-old conflict in which activists say more than 29,000 people have died.

He told the council that the torture of detainees has become "routine" and that people were now afraid to go to hospitals which were in the hands of government forces.

The envoy said Syria faces growing food shortages because harvests have been slashed by the fighting between government forces and opposition rebels.

Children 'badly traumatised'

Meanwhile, a global children's aid agency warned that Syrian children are being "badly traumatised" after witnessing killings, torture and other atrocities in their country's brutal conflict.

Save the Children said it has collected "shocking testimony" revealing that "children have been the targets of brutal attacks, seen the deaths of parents, siblings and other children, and have witnessed and experienced torture."

"Horrific acts of violence are being committed against children in Syria. These children need specialist care now to help them recover from their shocking experiences," said Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children.

"Their testimonies should also be documented so that those who have perpetrated these violent acts against children are held accountable."

Released Tuesday, "Untold Atrocities", a collection of first-hand accounts of the conflict from Syrian children and parents after fleeing their country, contains graphic details of how children have been caught up in Syria's war, "witnessing massacres and in some cases, experiencing torture."

The report gave detailed accounts of several children who witnessed horrific atrocities in their country.

"Dead bodies along with injured people were scattered all over the ground. I found body parts all over each other. Dogs were eating the dead bodies for two days after the massacre," it quoted 14-year-old Hassan as saying.

Another Syrian boy, Wael, 16, said he knew a six-year-old boy who "was tortured more than anyone else ... he only survived for three days and then he simply died."

The global organisation urged the United Nations to step up its documentation of all violations of children's rights in Syria.

'Buried under rubble'

Meanwhile regime warplanes struck rebel positions in Aleppo, killing three children, and activists reported deaths of at least 30 people across the country.

Heavy shelling was also reported in and around the rebel stronghold of Homs, as government war planes continued to bombard the city from above.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that three children from one family were among five people killed in a strike by regime warplanes on the northern city of Aleppo.

"Three children from the same family were killed when their building collapsed in Maadi district, which is located in the Old City of Aleppo, 600 metres from the citadel," observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

"There are still people buried under the rubble."

Videos posted to YouTube by activists showed a mountain of rubble and men trying to clear away slabs of debris to free trapped residents.

A fourth child, a girl, was killed in heavy shelling of Aleppo's northern neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsud where several homes were destroyed, the observatory said.

A correspondent for the AFP news agency also reported that the army pounded with artillery Bab al-Nayrab and Bab al-Hadid, two rebel areas near Maadi, while fierce clashes rocked Jdaidet and Sayyed Ali districts in the Old City of Aleppo.

A five-year old child was also killed in the town of Dael, in the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the revolt against the regime of President Assad, the observatory said.

Six soldiers were also killed in a bomb blast in Daraa, it added.

Battles also raged overnight in several areas of Syria and pre-dawn clashes erupted in the Damascus neighbourhood of Qaboon, while a blast shook the suburb of Qudsaya in the northeast, said the watchdog.

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