UN Security Council Meeting on Syria

Posted August 10th, 2011 at 6:30 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations Security Council is meeting Wednesday to discuss the situation in Syria, a week after issuing a strong statement condemning the government crackdown on opposition protesters and calling for the violence to stop.

Wednesday's talks come after several Arab nations condemned the violence, possibly creating a new opening for council action.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from Syria, while Turkey's foreign minister met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus Tuesday to call for an end to the bloodshed.

Mr. Assad has defended his crackdown on dissidents, saying it is a national duty to deal with what he called “outlaws” who block roads and, in his words, “terrorize” people.

Syria's state-run news agency said Mr. Assad told the Turkish foreign minister that his forces will not stop pursuing what he called “armed terrorist groups.”

Activists say Syrian forces have killed hundreds of people in recent days, with more than 30 reported killed on Tuesday alone.

Human rights groups said Syrian security forces with tanks pushed into the Hama region Tuesday and also carried out raids in villages near the Turkish border. They said most of the deaths occurred in Hama and the eastern town of Deir el-Zour.

On Tuesday, the United States said Mr. Assad had made “horrible choices” in Hama and Deir el-Zour. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also said it is “deeply regrettable” that Mr. Assad does not seem to be hearing the “increasingly loud voice of the international community.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone to his Syrian counterpart on Tuesday and urged him to find ways to end the violence and enact political reforms. Iraq's parliament also urged Syria to end the bloodshed, and Jordan and Egypt expressed concern about the unrest.