Agencies- Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, said he wouldn’t approve a deal for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go into exile to help end a conflict that has slid from a peaceful uprising into a destructive civil conflict.
Ban Ki-moon told the Associated Press on the sidelines of the UN climate change conference in Doha that the world body did not grant anyone “impunity”.
“Whoever commits [a] gross violation of human rights must be held accountable and should be brought to justice. This is a fundamental principle,” Ban said.
Press reports said that President al-Assad has shown no signs of preparing to flee, despite growing pressure from rebels who have steadily gained territory this year and have over-run several military bases in Damascus and elsewhere.
Opposition fighters claimed to have surrounded an air base in the capital on Wednesday, although the regime still maintains significant firepower and on Wednesday renewed a week-long assault in which it has hit back hard with jets and shells at rebel strongholds surrounding the city.
Fighting around Damascus has led foreign airlines to suspend flights and prompted the United Nations and European Union to reduce their presence, adding to a sense that the fight is closing in, although neither side has made a decisive advance.
Western countries that have long opposed President al-Assad claimed they were increasingly worried the regime could use chemical weapons as it became more desperate, although Damascus has denied it would ever do this.
“Our concerns are that an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons, or might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are now operating within Syria,” said Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state. “And so as part of the absolute unity that we all have on this issue we have sent an unmistakable message that this would cross a red line and those responsible would be held to account.”
Syria’s conflict has killed more than 40,000 people and foreign powers have remained deadlocked over the crisis. Western powers support the opposition, while Russia and China have blocked anti-Assad resolutions at the U.N. Security Council.