UNITED NATIONS, Jun 16, 2011 (IPS) – When reports of protests and subsequent civilian deaths as security forces fired on protestors began filtering in from the southern Syrian city of Dera‘a in March, many wondered what turn events would take in both Syria and the international community in the wake of earlier uprisings during the ‘Arab Spring’.
Since then, events have continued taking turns for the worse, but this week has marked a crucial point in both the increasingly dire humanitarian crisis and the lack of response from the United Nations Security Council.
On Sunday, Syrian forces moved into the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur, after the government claimed that “armed gangs” had killed at least 120 security forces and soldiers there in early June.
Now, at least 7,000 Syrians from the town and surrounding areas have fled to Turkey seeking safety, according to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Reports from other sources ranged from 5,000 to 8,500.
The OHCHR stated in a preliminary report that helicopter gunships were said to have been used on Jisr al-Shughur and its population of approximately 50,000.