|Syrians have been protesting against President Bashar al-Assad's government since March this year [EPA]|
The number of people killed in Syria in violence related to protests against President Bashar al-Assad's government has now reached more than 3,000, the United Nations human rights chief has said, as she has called for "the international community to take immediate measures to protect the Syrian people".
Navi Pillay, the UN's high commissioner for human rights, expressed her deep dismay at the "remorseless toll of human lives", according to a statement released from the body's head office in Geneva on Friday.
"The number of people killed since the violence started in March has now exceeded 3,000, including at least 187 children. More than 100 people have been reported killed in the last 10 days alone," she said.
"In addition, thousands have been arrested, detained, forcibly disappeared and tortured. Family members inside and outside the country have been targeted for harassment, intimidation, threats and beatings.
"As more members of the military refuse to attack civilians and change sides, the crisis is already showing worrying signs of descending into an armed struggle."
"The Government of Syria has manifestly failed to protect its population. Furthermore, it has ignored the international community's calls to co-operate with international investigations," the UN human rights chief said.
Pillay said that the international community must take "protective action in a collective and decisive manner", before the violence drives Syria into "a full-blown civil war".
"Sniping from rooftops, and indiscriminate use of force against peaceful protesters - including the use of live
ammunition and the shelling of residential neighbourhoods - have become routine occurrences in many Syrian cities," Pillay said.