UN CHIEF Ban Ki-moon declared yesterday that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had agreed to permit UN teams to assess the humanitarian situation in the country following seven weeks of unrest.
The announcement coincided with protests in a dozen Syrian cities and towns dubbed a “Friday of Defiance”, called to seize the initiative from the military which has deployed heavily in restive hubs and detained hundreds of activists with the aim of smothering the revolt.
The government was especially determined to keep a lid on the protests because they were held on Martyrs’ Day, the anniversary of the 1916 hanging by the Ottoman authorities of Syrian nationalists demanding independence.
Mr Assad attended ceremonies at the tomb of the unknown soldier before demonstrations erupted after Muslim communal prayers, the traditional time for protest. Read more