UN rights chief says Syria death toll over 5,000


Posted at Dec 13 2011 07:29 AM | Updated as of Dec 13 2011 06:20 PM

UNITED NATIONS - United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay told the Security Council on Monday the death toll in Syria's nine-month crackdown on protesters had now risen to over 5,000.

The figure compares with more than 4,000 that she cited just 10 days ago.

"Today I have reported that the figure exceeds 5,000," Pillay told reporters after briefing the 15-nation council on the situation in Syria.

The figure included civilians, defecting soldiers and those executed for refusing to shoot civilians, but did not include members of the military and other security forces killed by opposition forces, she told the council.

Western envoys on the council described Pillay's briefing as the most horrifying they had heard in recent times and termed it scandalous that the council, paralyzed by opposition from Russia and China, had taken little action on Syria.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he too was troubled by Pillay's report but said outside intervention could lead to civil war and a far higher death toll.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said Pillay should never have been brought before the council and that the session was part of a "huge conspiracy concocted against Syria from the beginning."