A senior U.N. official urged authorities in the central Syrian city of Homs Monday to release political prisoners and allow peaceful demonstrations.
Homs has been hard hit in violent clashes between anti-government protests and pro-government security forces. Last week, at least 15 civilians were "summarily executed" there by regime forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"Authorizing peaceful demonstrations and releasing detainees would go some way towards consolidating confidence, which so far has been lacking, so that the political process can get started and can gain traction," said Herve Ladsous, the U.N.'s undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations after meeting with Homs Governor Ghassan Abdelaal.
In addition, he called for public services to facilitate everyday life.
Abdelaal countered that providing services required entering into opposition-controlled areas and that this could lead to clashes.
Ladsous made his remarks as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon warned that the search for peace in Syria was at a "pivotal moment" and as the violence across the Middle Eastern country claimed at least another 38 lives.
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