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Geneva - Feb 28, 2012 - 18:31

Last modified: 28 Feb 2012 15:31

There needs to be an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria, the UN human rights chief has declared, saying the situation has deteriorated rapidly as the Syrian government steps up its onslaught against the opposition.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the world has to take action to prevent Syrian security forces from continuing their bombardments and other attacks against civilians, which she said had resulted in "countless atrocities".

Speaking at an urgent meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, Pillay urged Syria to end all fighting, allow international monitors to enter the country and give unhindered access for aid agencies to enter the besieged city of Homs and other embattled cities.

The appeal prompted a bitter response from Syria's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, who accused the 47-nation council of promoting terrorism in his country.

Before storming out of the room, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui said Tuesday's meeting would only prolong the crisis in Syria.
"The call for holding the session is part of a pre-established plan," he said. "It is aimed at attacking the Syrian state and its institutions under the pretext of humanitarian needs."
Read our news story for more detail and context: 'Immediate ceasefire' urged in Syria

For more of Al Jazeera's special coverage visit our spotlight page: Syria - The War Within