U.N. chief: Stop fighting in Syria during holy month of Ramadan

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U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel fighters in Syria to put down their arms during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a time during which fighting is supposed to stop, Ban said in a statement issued on Monday.

"For the sake of the Syrian people, therefore, I would like to call on all parties in Syria to respect this religious obligation for at least, at a minimum, one month,” Ban said.

“I am calling for every military unit of the regular army and the Free Syrian Army, for every person holding a gun, to stop fighting and offer this month of peace as a collective present to their people - and to do so across Syria.”

Since March 2011, at least 90,000 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in the Syrian uprising against the Damascus regime.

Syria’s opposition leader, Ahmad Jarba, said on Sunday that he was ready for a truce with Assad’s forces during the holy month of Ramadan.

“I am aware that some may see this call as unrealistic,” the U.N. chief said.

“Lasting peace will only come through serious negotiation. But I am convinced that the Syrian people have every right to ask this of all those who claim to be fighting in their name.”

Ban also urged both parties of the Syrian conflict to free detainees.

"Reliable reports speak of hundreds, if not thousands, of women and children who are detained in various official and non-official detention centers across the country,” Ban said. “Armed opposition groups also have many detained people who are not prisoners of war.”

(With Reuters)

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