Dozens Killed in Syria as UN Set to Discuss Resolution

Posted January 27th, 2012 at 4:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Violence in Syria escalated on Friday, bringing the death toll to more than 70 in recent days, as a United Nations Security Council bid to curb the bloodshed stalls.

Activists say government forces killed more than 37 people in attacks throughout the country on Friday. Syrian activist Rami Abdul-Raham told VOA six members of the Syrian security forces were also killed by a car bomb in the northwestern city of Idlib. Pro-Assad forces were also reported to have carried out a raid in the flashpoint city of Homs.

The head of the Arab League observer mission in Syria said Friday that witnesses have seen an increase in violence since Tuesday, especially in the cities of Homs, Hama and Idlib. The widely-criticized observer mission is in Syria to monitor whether President Bashar al-Assad is keeping his promise to end the violence.

The anti-Assad protests moved Friday to Cairo, where dozens of Syrians stormed their nation's embassy in the Egyptian capital. Opponents of Mr. Assad pushed past security guards and broke down doors and windows as they forced their way into some of the building's administrative offices.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council began meeting Friday to try once again to reach a resolution on Syria's brutal crackdown. For months, the council has failed to agree on a plan, with Russia and China strongly opposing resolutions drawn up by Arab and Western nations.

Russia announced earlier in the day it would not support the newest joint Arab-Western draft resolution to end the 10-month-old crisis because it “does not take into account” Moscow's positions on how to curb the violence.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted by Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency as saying Russia is concerned the resolution does not specifically rule out military intervention.

The resolution supports an Arab League plan calling for President Bashar al-Assad to transfer power to a deputy and form a national unity government to prepare for elections.

The Arab League is expected to formally present the plan to the Security Council next week, and a vote is expected soon thereafter.

The United Nations Children's Fund announced Friday that the bloody, 10-month crackdown in Syria has left at least 384 children dead. UNICEF's acting deputy executive director Rima Salah told reporters in Geneva that some 380 children have also been detained, including some younger than 14 years old.

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. But the agency said this week that it has stopped compiling a death toll because it is too difficult to obtain information.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged the council to take action on the proposal, saying leaders should “seize this moment.”

“I hope that the Security Council will be able to act in a coherent and same voice.”