Syria opposition urges action ahead of UN showdown

Syria President Bashar al-Assad
Damascus, Jan 31: Syria's opposition urged the international community to act and deplored its failure to stop "massacres" amid spiralling violence ahead of a UN Security Council showdown on Tuesday.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in neighbouring Jordan for talks on Middle East peace, urged the Security Council to overcome bitter differences over Syria to increase pressure to end the bloodshed. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading a Western charge to press Russia to back Security Council action to stop a crackdown on dissent the United Nations says has killed more than 5,400 people in the past 10 months.

Veto-wielding Russia has objected to a resolution introduced by Morocco which calls for the regime to put an immediate stop to violence against protesters and for President Bashar al-Assad to hand power to his deputy.

"I don't think Russian policy is about asking people to step down. Regime change is not our profession," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, stressing that while the Syrian president was not an ally, it was not up to other nations to interfere.

The text seen by AFP calls for the formation of a unity government leading to "transparent and free elections," while stressing there will be no foreign military intervention in Syria. Assad's government has already flatly rejected a similarly worded resolution proposed by the Arab League.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, said today that pushing the resolution through would be the "path towards civil war" in a country where an increasingly bold insurgency is harrowing regime forces. 


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