Russia Challenges Syria Draft Resolution as Violence Escalates

Posted January 27th, 2012 at 7:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia said parts of a European-Arab draft resolution on Syria, circulated to the United Nations Security Council on Friday, are “unacceptable,” but that Moscow is ready to negotiate.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said the text ignores what he called Moscow's “red lines” where they could not go, including any sort of imposition of an arms embargo.

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.

Next Tuesday, the Arab League secretary-general, Nabil ElAraby, and the prime minister of Qatar will brief the 15-member Security Council on the league's month-long monitoring mission in Syria, which was plagued by difficulties.

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

Meanwhile, violence in Syria continued to escalate on Friday, bringing the death toll to more than 70 in recent days.

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 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 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.”