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Updated: June 9, 2011 17:16 IST

U.N. rights chief deplores crackdown on Syrian town

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A supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad holds a placard showing a cartoon of the al-Jazeera satellite chanel logo with Arabic words reading Hamad Channel
A supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad holds a placard showing a cartoon of the al-Jazeera satellite chanel logo with Arabic words reading Hamad Channel" referring Qatar's emir, as he protests in front of Qatar's embassy against Qatar's Emir Qatar Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and against the al-Jazeera channel , in Damascus, on Wednesday. Photo: AP.

The U.N.’s top human rights official on Thursday accused Syria of trying to “bludgeon its population into submission” by attacking anti—government protesters with snipers, tanks and artillery.

Navi Pillay, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was particularly concerned about reports of civilians fleeing a threatened government assault on the north-western town of Jisr al—Shughour, where authorities say “armed groups” have killed 120 security forces.

“We are receiving an increasing number of alarming reports pointing to the Syrian government’s continuing efforts to ruthlessly crush civilian protests,” she said in a statement. “It is utterly deplorable for any government to attempt to bludgeon its population into submission, using tanks, artillery and snipers.”

Ms. Pillay said her office had received reports from non—governmental organization that over 1,100 men, women and children have been killed since protests began in March and some 10,000 people have been detained.

In her statement, she referred also to the recent torture and killing of a 13—year—old boy by security forces.

“The unimaginably cruel murder and mutilation of this child seems to be emblematic of the moral and legal bankruptcy of the apparent policy of crushing dissent by all available means,” Ms. Pillay said.

She urged neighbouring countries such as Turkey to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing Syria.

Syria has ignored a request from Ms. Pillay to allow a high—level fact—finding team to visit the country. The team will issue a report on Syria on June 15, she said.

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