UN Security Council To Vote On Syria, As Bloodshed Intensifies

Posted February 4th, 2012 at 11:05 am (UTC-5)
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Western powers say a vote on the United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria will go ahead Saturday as the bloodshed intensified in the flashpoint city of Homs leaving more than 200 people dead.

U.S. President Barack Obama urged the council to take a stand against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's “relentless brutality” ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution on the violence in Syria. Mr. Obama said in a statement on Saturday that he condemns Mr. Assad's “unspeakable assault.” He called for the Syrian leader to step aside and make way for a democratic transition.

U.N. ambassadors gathered for a closed meeting called by Russia early Saturday. Heading into the talks in New York, British ambassador to the United Nations Mark Lyall Grant said Russia will call for a delay, but he said, the council “will vote today.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned earlier Saturday that there will be “scandal” if a Western-backed resolution on the violence in Syria is put to a vote.

German ambassador to the United Nations Peter Wittig responded saying it would be a scandal to not take action on the worsening violence in Syria.

“Endgame. No more foot dragging. The scandal is not to act, the scandal would be a failure to act.”

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.

The U.S. ambassador the United Nations Susan Rice called Russia's amendments to the latest Western-backed draft “unacceptable.”

Lavrov met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Munich Germany on Saturday. Reuters news agency reports that U.S. officials say the two agreed on the urgency of the situation in Syria, but declined to say if they made progress.

Meanwhile, human rights activists say Syrian security forces launched a barrage of mortars and artillery on the Khalidiya neighborhood of Homs, where there is strong anti-government sentiment. The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights says hundreds more people have been wounded and some buildings have been destroyed in a surge of violence that began on Friday.

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

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

Both Russia and China have opposed Western-backed draft resolutions on Syria.

Russian news agencies are reporting that Lavrov and Russian foreign intelligence service chief Mikhail Fradkov will travel to Syria on Tuesday to meet with President Bashar al-Assad.

“We have the text on the table. We've made considerable efforts to go to the Russia. No it's over. This text is simple: We suport the arab league peace plan, nothing more, nothing less. We are not going to move from that. we vote today.”