Russia, Europeans Seek Compromise on UN Syria Draft

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 9:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations Security Council met Wednesday to discuss a possible compromise resolution on Syria that avoids immediate sanctions but condemns the escalating violence, urges promised reforms and calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process.

The 15-member Council discussed rival draft resolutions on the Syrian crisis drawn up by European powers and Russia.

France, Britain, Germany and Portugal proposed a new resolution in which they drop demands for immediate sanctions, but threaten President Bashar al-Assad with action if he does not end his deadly crackdown on opposition protests.

Russia opposes any hint of sanctions, and the latest version of its draft resolution seeks to condemn violence by all sides in Syria. India, Brazil and some other non-permanent Council members also are against imposing punitive measures on Damascus.

Earlier attempts at an agreement ended in August with a presidential statement, which does not carry the same weight as a resolution. Diplomats say they hope to vote on the new draft by the end of the week.

On Tuesday, Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters killed at least eight people in raids seeking to crush army deserters who are fighting back after months of mostly peaceful protests against the president.

Rights groups say at least six people were killed during government raids in the central city of Homs, and two more in northwestern Idlib province.

Activists say dozens of armored vehicles entered the central town of Rastan early Tuesday, and army troops stormed hospital emergency rooms looking for wounded rebel soldiers. Dozens of people were reported taken from their homes.

The defectors, estimated to number in the thousands across the country, are part of the newly formed Free Syrian Army. The dissident soldiers are led by Colonel Riad al-Asaad, who defected from the air force in July.

President Assad has repeatedly sent out troops to quell anti-government protests. The United Nations says the crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March. Syria says the death toll is lower and includes members of the security forces.

Human Rights Watch has urged the U.N. Security Council to take action to stop what it calls Syria's “merciless campaign” of killings, torture and arbitrary detention.