7 Aug 2011

Assad told to stop using force against civilians

1:21 pm on 7 August 2011

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke by phone on Saturday with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and urged him to stop deploying the military against civilians.

The UN says Mr Ban expressed his strong concern at the mounting death toll over the past few days.

The northern city of Hama has been under heavy attack from government forces.

Mr Ban has reportedly been trying for months to speak with Mr Assad, but officials say he had been refusing to take his calls.

The last time the secretary-general spoke with Mr Assad was in May.

The UN press office said Mr Ban also reiterated previous UN demands that international humanitarian agencies and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights be allowed into the country.