France Calls UN Silence on Syria ‘Inconceivable’

Posted June 7th, 2011 at 4:20 pm (UTC-5)
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France's foreign minister says it is “inconceivable” that the United Nations Security Council has remained silent on the escalating situation in Syria.

Alain Juppe told reporters at the U.N. Tuesday that France is working with Britain and other European allies to gather a large majority to support a resolution condemning Syria for its violence against civilians. He said they would set a date to vote on the issue in “days, maybe hours.”

Diplomats say they feel they have secured a large enough majority to pass the resolution, but they fear it may be vetoed by Russia or China.

Meanwhile, two different voice recordings appearing to be from Syria's ambassador to France caused confusion among media outlets Tuesday.

In one recording that aired on France 24, a woman claiming to be the ambassador said she had resigned her post to protest her government's violence against citizens. In another telephone conversation, with Al Arabiya, a woman claiming to be the ambassador denies speaking with France 24 and asserts that she is still Syria's representative to France.

Syria's state media also report that the ambassador, Lamia Shakkour, has not resigned. VOA cannot determine at this point which audio statement is accurate.

In Syria, residents of a town near the Turkish border are bracing for possible violence after the government pledged a forceful response to what it called a massacre of security forces.

Government officials said Monday that armed gangs had killed 120 law enforcement officers during clashes over the past few days in Jisr al-Shughour.

However, opposition activists dispute the casualty count and say the government's accusations may serve as an excuse for a new military crackdown in the region. The killings could not be independently confirmed because foreign journalists are not allowed in Syria.

The region near the Turkish border has become a flashpoint in the anti-government uprising. Protesters have been calling for an end to President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year authoritarian rule.

Rights groups say at least 1,100 people have been killed in the government's crackdown against the anti-government campaign that began in March. More than 10,000 people have been arrested.

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Mr. Assad needs to “reform or step aside.” U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration have made similar statements urging the Syrian leader to transition to democracy or “get out.”