Death Toll Mounts in Syria as UN Debates Resolution

Posted August 2nd, 2011 at 2:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Syrian activists and witnesses say the three-day death toll from the government's crackdown on dissent has topped 100.

They commented on Tuesday as the U.N. Security Council debates a draft resolution that expresses “grave concern” about deadly violence in the country.

The Security Council is meeting for a second day on the measure that urges President Bashar al-Assad's government to lift its siege on Syrian towns. The resolution also calls on Syria to implement political reforms and launch an impartial investigation into attacks on anti-government demonstrations.

Diplomats say Brazil has submitted alternative proposals and that efforts are underway to merge the two measures.

Meanwhile, activists and witnesses say more than 130 people have been killed since Sunday as the government steps up its crackdown on opposition.

Most of the deaths have occurred in the flashpoint city of Hama, where activists say three more people were killed Tuesday after government forces opened fire.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Syrian political activists in her first attempt to reach out to the expatriate opposition since the start of anti-government protests.

A State Department spokesman said Clinton expressed her “profound sympathy” to what she called the “victims” of Mr. Assad's government. He says the Syrian activists reaffirmed their desire for an inclusive government.

Earlier Tuesday, Russia and India voiced concerns about the draft U.N. resolution, saying the text was only slightly different than an earlier resolution that was rejected.

Also, a Russian foreign ministry official voiced opposition to any measure that included sanctions on Syria.

In another development on Tuesday, Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria, citing what it called the “horrible repression of the civilian population.”

Human Rights groups say Syrian forces have killed at least 1,600 civilians since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began the crackdown. The government has blamed much of the violence on what it says are terrorists and militants who have killed hundreds of security personnel.