Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has informed the United Nations that military action in the country has ended, a UN spokesman said Thursday as the White House reportedly prepared a statement calling for Assad to leave power.
The spokesman said Assad had told UN chief Ban Ki-moon that all security operations were over, after weeks of bloodshed in which hundreds of civilians and soldiers have been killed.
Assad spoke to the UN chief by telephone as the Security Council prepared to meet to discuss the unrest in Syria, and a day after security forces allegedly killed 10 more people, according to AFP news agency.
Ban is reportedly close to calling for the international war crimes court to investigate the crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators, while AP said preparations were in place for the White House to demand Assad's resignation.
The UN chief "expressed alarm at the latest reports of continued widespread violations of human rights and excessive use of force by Syrian security forces against civilians across Syria," deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Ban "emphasized that all military operations and mass arrests must cease immediately. President Assad said that the military and police operations had stopped," the spokesman added, according to AFP.
Assad told the ruling Baath party on Wednesday that Syria would "remain strong and resilient" in the face of mounting international condemnation of the regime, which insists it battling "criminal gangs."
Activists say hundreds of civilians have been killed and tortured during the unrest, amid country-wide protests for greater freedoms and an end to the Baath party's monopoly on power.