UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Saturday called for an immediate end to violence in Syria, which he said should answer "the calls of the Syrian people for change" with "far-reaching reforms."
Ban, in a statement issued here by his spokesman, said he condemned the reported killing on Friday of dozens of civilian in Syria's Homs and Hama provinces, "adding to an alarming death toll of well over 3,000 people since the beginning of the protests seven months ago."
"The secretary-general believes the calls of the Syrian people for change must be answered with far-reaching reforms, not repression and violence," the statement said.
"He appeals for military operations against civilians to stop at once and for the release of all political prisoners and those detained in connection to their participation in the popular protests," the statement said. "He emphasizes that violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately."
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem received a message late Friday from Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, who led a AL ministerial committee, expressing the AL's anger at the alleged bloodshed in the country on Friday, reports said.
According to the pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV, a total of 42 people were killed Friday across Syria by government forces, as thousands of people took to streets in several cities calling for international protection and an air embargo on Syria.
The message from the Arab League (AL) ministerial committee "was basically based on media lies broadcasted by tendentious provocative TV channels over what happened in Syria Friday," a Foreign Ministry source said in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Saturday.
The source suggested that the AL official "was supposed to contact Syria's foreign minister to find out the truth before announcing the committee's stance prompted by the channels of incitement."
He further said that the Syrian Foreign Ministry was surprised by the message one day ahead of a meeting in Doha, Qatar, between the Syrian government and the ministerial committee. (Xinhua)