Syria death toll hits 5,000
The British ambassador said of the UN briefing on the violence that it was the "most horrifying briefing that we've had in the Security Council over the last two years."
The briefer, Navi Pillay, said she erred in her estimate of the dead from just 10 days ago.
The U.N.'s Navi Pillay said the death toll was 1,000 higher than an estimate she released ten days earlier. It includes civilians, army defectors and those executed for refusing to shoot civilians, but not soldiers or security personnel killed by opposition forces, she said.
The Syrian government has said more than 1,100 members of the army, police and security services have been killed.
Meanwhile, the violence continued unabated with the added factor of an ever growing armed insurgency against the Assad government:
Mutineers from Syria's regular army have banded together to set up the Free Syrian Army whose gunmen have been active in the city of Homs to try and counter pro-Assad snipers who residents say attempt to intimidate the population into submission.
In the latest violence around dawn on Tuesday, security forces shot dead 17 people in the northern protest hotbed of Idlib, including nine killed in one incident shortly after dawn, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Activists in the province told Reuters that the nine people were killed when inhabitants of the town of Kfar Yahmour came under fire after they burned tires to block a convoy carrying security forces and pro-Assad militia members.
Two more were shot dead and 19 were wounded when security forces opened fire to try to break up a funeral procession, which now often become impromptu protests.
The Observatory said army deserters attacked a convoy carrying security forces, killing at least seven people. There was no immediate report from state media of the attack, but the SANA news agency said security forces killed several members of an "armed terrorist group" in Idlib.
Watch the city of Homs over the next few days. There is word that Assad plans a crackdown on that town that might rival his father's massacre of civilians in Hama back in 1982. The city is in open revolt and that's where many of the defectors are fighting.
It could get very bloody, indeed.