Russia and China Block UN Resolution on Syria

Posted February 4th, 2012 at 12:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia and China have again vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria condemning President Bashar al-Assad's nearly year-long crackdown on anti-government protests.

The 15-member council voted on a Western and Arab-backed resolution that condemned the violence and called for Mr. Assad to step aside. Thirteen members voted in favor, including the United States, France and Germany.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the Security Council the United States “is disgusted” by the Russian and Chinese “no” votes that blocked the resolution.

The deliberations at the United Nations in New York followed by hours a heavy barrage of mortar and artillery fire from Syrian security forces that crashed into the Syrian city of Homs. Human rights activists say more than 200 people were killed by the Assad government's action.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says hundreds more people were wounded and some buildings were destroyed in the Khalidiya neighborhood of Homs, where there is strong anti-government sentiment.

U.S. President Barack Obama urged the council to take a stand against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's “relentless brutality.” Mr. Obama said in a statement issued just before the United Nations vote that he condemns Mr. Assad's “unspeakable assault.” He called for the Syrian leader to step aside and make way for a democratic transition.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who had said a consensus on the Syrian resolution was still possible, met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Munich on Saturday. Media reports from the Bavarian capital quote U.S. officials as saying Lavrov and Clinton agreed on the urgency of the situation in Syria, but declined to say if they made progress.

The Russian foreign minister and the Kremlin's foreign intelligence service chief, Mikhail Fradkov, are to travel to Syria on Tuesday to meet with President Bashar al-Assad.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe also lashed out against Russia's stance on the Syrian resolution, saying those who block it are taking “grave historical responsibility.”

Russia wants the resolution to equally condemn the violence from both anti- and pro-government forces. It also is against the possibility of foreign intervention in the conflict.

Tunisia took a stand against the intensifying violence in Syria on Saturday. in a statement on his Facebook page Saturday, President Moncef Marzouki said Tunisia has begun the process of withdrawing its ambassador to Syria and its recognition of Mr. Assad's government.

Syrian security forces opened fired on a funeral procession Saturday, killing at least seven people in the Damascus suburb of Daraya.