Russia Proposes Tamer Resolution on Syria

Posted August 26th, 2011 at 7:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia has introduced its own U.N. resolution on Syria, which calls for Bashar al-Assad's government to halt its crackdown on anti-government protesters but does not mention the sanctions sought by the U.S. and European nations.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal two days earlier circulated a stronger resolution that calls for sanctions against Mr. Assad, influential members of his family and close associates.

The resolution introduced by Russia on Friday calls for an immediate end to all violence, but fails to condemn the perpetrators or punish them.

Meanwhile, a United Nations humanitarian team says there is an “urgent need” to protect Syrian civilians from the use of excessive force.

However, the team says there is no countrywide humanitarian crisis in Syria. The group released the findings on Friday, after wrapping up a five-day visit to the country.

Also Friday, Syrian forces opened fire on protesters marching in cities and towns across the country, calling for Mr. Assad's resignation.

Rights groups and activists said security forces shot at protesters in areas that include the Damascus suburb of Douma, Dara'a province in the south and the eastern town of Deir Ezzor. They say at least three people were killed.

However, Syria says “hooded gunmen” opened fire on law enforcement officers in Deir Ezzor, injuring three officers. The SANA news agency says law enforcement officers responded by shooting and killing two of the gunmen. The news agency also says “gunmen” attacked a security building in Douma, injuring two guards.

In a separate development, Syria says it is investigating an attack Thursday on the country's best-known political cartoonist.

Ali Ferzat was kidnapped and severely beaten by assailants who then dumped him on the side of a road near Damascus. Activists say he was attacked by security forces. State-run media reports blame “veiled people” for the incident.

A relative of Ferzat told Western media the attackers threatened to break Ferzat's bones as a warning for him to stop aiming his cartoons against government officials.

The United Nations says more than 2,000 people have died in Syria during the government crackdown. President Assad has blamed much of the deadly violence on what he calls armed “gangs” and “terrorists.”