UN Human Rights Body: Syrian Army Has Killed Up to 850 People Since Riots Started

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights announced on Friday in Geneva that the between 700 and 850 people were killed in Syria by the Syrian army since the beginning of the protests against Bashar Assad's regime. A spokesman for the Commissioner said that the number could not be clearly and unequivocally confirmed, but the UN believes it is fairly accurate.

The statement voiced deep concern with the events in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, saying human rights violations there were worsening as a result of the governments' lethal response to the ongoing demonstrations for democracy and reform. It urged the Middle Eastern governments to stop using force and mass arrests against the protesters. The Commissioner's spokesman told reporters in Geneva that there were reports of arrests of hundreds of people in Bahrain, including opposition politicians and human rights activists, as well as reports of abuse and torture of detainees.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon spoke to Syrian President Assad on the phone last week and urged him to cooperate with a UN delegation set to arrive in Syria.