The United Nations says the death toll in Syria’s nine-month-old uprising has reached “much more” than 4000, characterising the situation as a civil war.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave the latest figure on Thursday, a day before the global body is due to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis in the country.
"We are placing the figure at 4,000. But the information coming to us is that it’s much more," she said during a conference in Geneva.
"I have said that as soon as there were more and more defectors threatening to take up arms, I said this in August before the Security Council, there was going to be a civil war.
"At the moment that’s how I am characterising this."
Later in the day, Rupert Colville, Pillay’s spokesperson, said Syria is on the cusp of civil war, clarifying the human rights chief’s earlier remarks.
"It is definitely heading that way, with more and more reports of armed resistance to the government forces. It is on the cusp, but in these circumstances it is hard to say definitively at what point it becomes civil war."
In its report on Monday, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry said Syrian forces had committed crimes against humanity, including the murder and torture of children, following orders from the highest levels of President Bashar al-Assad’s government.