08/18/2011, 00.00
SYRIA
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Assad to Ban Ki-moon: the military operations are over

The UN Secretary-General had asked for an end to the violence and arrests. Possible referral to the International Criminal Tribunal for Assad. Today, new Security Council meeting on Syria.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the military operations against the protesters have "ended". According to a UN spokesman, Assad has made this statement during a telephone conversation yesterday with Ban Ki-moon. Assad responded to a request from the Secretary: "That all military operations and mass arrests cease immediately." The last episode of the repression in the port of Latakia, saw even military vessels open fire on the city. (08/16/2011 More than 5,000 Palestinians flee refugee camp in Latakia).

Ban Ki-moon has also requested that a UN team has access to all areas affected by violence, to carry out an independent inquiry. The Syrian government has given its consent. Assad has informed the UN secretary general that he intends to carry out structural reforms, including amendments to the Constitution and the elections in the short term. Meanwhile, the UN has decided to withdraw staff not strictly necessary (20 people) from Syria, and the Tunisian government has recalled its ambassador Mohammed Laou to Damascus for consultations. The Security Council will examine the question of Syria. It is possible that Navi Pillay, head of the UN's Human Rights, will suggest that Assad be refered to the International Criminal Court.

Meanwhile, the Hudson Institute, an advisory body linked to the U.S. Department of Defense, has published a report according to which the White House would have decided to cooperate with Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood in the possibility of a “post Assad" government. Herbert London, president of the Hudson Institute, writes that the State Department has ignored the representatives of other organizations, including pro-democracy leaders, as well as Kurdish, liberal Sunni, Assyrian and Christian leaders.

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