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UN chief: Syrian army forces bury families alive

Syrian "government forces have indiscriminately destroyed entire neighbourhoods and entire families were buried under the rubble of their homes," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in statement today.

The Secretary-General said: "In the face of troubling new reports of atrocities in the brutal conflict driving Syria to its destruction, the Secretary-General demands that warring parties and their supporters ensure that civilians are protected, regardless of their religion, community or ethnic affiliation.

"Both the Syrian government and armed groups have the legal obligation and moral responsibility to do so. They must do everything to avoid and prevent violence against civilians, including indiscriminate shelling and air attacks on civilian areas."

Ban Ki-moon condemned the killing of the elderly Dutch priest, Father Frans van der Lugt in Homs, central Syria yesterday, describing the incident as "the latest tragedy highlighting the urgent need to protect civilians".

"I condemn this inhumane act of violence against a man who heroically stood by the people of Syria amid sieges and growing difficulties," the statement read.

The Secretary-General noted that "there is a belief by too many in Syria and beyond that this conflict can be won militarily", but he warned that "more violence will only bring more suffering and instability to Syria and sow chaos in the region."

He urged all Syrians and their supporters abroad to "immediately put an end to this conflict".

Since March 2011, the Syrian opposition has been calling to end more than 40 years of rule by the family of President Bashar Al-Assad and to establish a democratic state. The Syrian regime has refused to step down and began a military campaign to end protests leading the country in to bloody battles between the army and opposition forces which has so far claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people according to statistics released by the Syrian Observatory for Syrian Human Rights, an independent human rights organisation based in London.

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