Russia Says UN Resolution Would Put Syria on Path to Civil War

Posted January 31st, 2012 at 9:40 am (UTC-5)
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Russia is warning that a Western and Arab effort to push the U.N. Security Council into adopting a resolution on Syria will put that nation on a path to civil war.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Tuesday the Western and Arab-backed draft resolution will not achieve a compromise in the 10-month long rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

Syrian opposition activists said government troops were consolidating control over eastern suburbs of Damascus Tuesday after several days of heavy fighting with rebels who briefly seized the communities just several kilometers from Mr. Assad's seat of power.

The activists said Monday's fighting between pro-Assad forces and the loosely-organized rebels in the Damascus suburbs and the central province of Homs killed about 100 people, many of them civilians. It was not possible to confirm the casualties independently because Syria bars foreign media from operating freely in the country.

The Moroccan-sponsored draft resolution is expected to be formally presented to the Security Council later Tuesday. Key supporters of the draft are due to appear at the session, including Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby, Qatar's prime minister, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterparts from Britain and France.

Western news agencies that obtained copies of the document say it endorses an Arab League plan requiring Syrian President Assad to transfer power to a deputy and form a unity government to prepare for elections under international supervision. They say the draft also warns of unspecified further measures if Syria does not comply. The Assad government already has rejected the plan as a violation of its sovereignty.

Russia has vowed to oppose any Security Council measure that it believes could give Western powers a pretext for military action against the Assad government. Syria is a long-time Russian military ally that provides Moscow with a naval base on the Mediterranean coast and frequently buys Russian military supplies.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday he hopes the Security Council will act in a coherent manner that reflects the wishes of the international community for an end to Syria's unrest. He was speaking on a visit to the Jordanian capital Amman.

The Syrian government accuses armed terrorists of driving the anti-Assad revolt and killing 2,000 security personnel. The United Nations estimated the death toll from the unrest at 5,400 earlier this month, before it stopped updating the figure because of difficulties in obtaining information.