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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister strongly condemns atrocities in Syria

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson, strongly condemns atrocities committed by Syrian authorities as well as armed militias linked to the Syrian Government. There is little doubt these actors have planned and committed systematic violations of human rights in the past few weeks and months. The Minister also condems specifically the recent mass murder of civilians in El-Houlah in the western part of Syria and stresses that all those responsible must be brought to justice.

The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights has this week ascertained that most of the victims of the atrocities in El-Houlah were executed in gruesome fashion. Of the 108 people that died 49 were children. Witnesses have said that the perpetrators were members of armed militias supportive of the Assad regime. Further atrocities have been reported this week and the descriptions of all these despicable acts indicate that crimes against humanity may have been committed.

In light of these events and the situation in Syria the Minister for Foreign Affairs reiterates his statement of August 2011 calling on Bashar al-Assad to leave office in Syria.

Iceland was party to a joint statement by the Nordic countries at the special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday where the Nordic countries condemned recent atrocities in the strongest possible terms and held the Syrian Government  responsible for protecting its population. The international community must send a clear signal to the Syrian authorities that they must without further delay bring all violence to an end. Iceland furthermore today co-sponsored a resolution passed at the meeting of the Human Rights Council where atrocities committed by the Syrian regime were condemned and Syria requested to provide full support to an investigation into the El-Houleh massacre by the HRC´s Commission of Inquiry.

The Minister expresses his full support for the peace efforts lead by Kofi Annan, Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League.

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