U.N. says Syria agreed to ‘limited assessment’ as EU warns against ‘large-scale fire’


U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said on Friday the Syrian government had agreed to join U.N. agencies in a “limited assessment” of the situation in the country, where government forces continued a crackdown on rebels, as EU foreign ministers warned that military intervention in Syria could ignite “a large-scale fire.”

As many as 82 people have been killed by the fire of Syrian security forces across the country on Friday, Al Arabiya reported citing activists at the Local Coordination Committees.

Speaking at a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara, Amos said she had asked the Syrian government for unhindered aid access to worst-hit areas, but the Syrian government had requested more time, according to Reuters.

“We have agreed on a joint preliminary humanitarian assessment mission to areas where people urgently need assistance,” Amos said following a two-day visit to Syria.

EU foreign ministers, meanwhile, warned against the temptation of military intervention in Syria despite the growing weight of human suffering, saying boots on the ground could ignite “a large-scale fire.”

Germany’s Guido Westerwelle, arriving for talks with his European Union counterparts, said any talk of military intervention was “counterproductive.”

“We need to avoid a large-scale fire” that would have “really disastrous consequences for the region, the people, and the world,” he said, according to AFP.

Ahead of his visit Saturday to Syria, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan spoke out strongly against any foreign arming of the rebels, prompting Washington to echo his concerns about the dangers of further militarization of the conflict.

Speaking to reporters as they flew in for two days of brain-storming on the shape of EU diplomacy in the future, several ministers said the international community must to stick to sanctions to pressure Damascus while simultaneously seeking humanitarian relief for civilians.

“The sanctions are having an impact on the Syrian regime,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, while Westerwelle said he believed President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was in an increasing “state of dissolution.”

“We must be patient,” said Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn. “We will unfortunately have to accept to see enormously more victims, but military intervention would be worse.”

“It wouldn’t be thousands but tens of thousands of dead.”

While urging bolstered efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Syria’s beleaguered population, Austria’s Michael Spindelegger too cautioned against providing military backing for such aid.

“I think that we have to be very careful on that,” he said.

Bringing food and medicine to people in lulls between the fighting would be “only possible if all sides agree to follow that.”

“We are on a good path to arranging that,” he added.

In a veiled call to Russia, Germany’s Westerwelle said it was urgent for the U.N. Security Council to issue a clear message that “we are on the side of the people in Syria against the violence and the repression.”

Asselborn said he believed Russia could sign on to a humanitarian resolution “because a permanent member of the Security Council cannot allow this drama to continue.”