Russia calls for balanced approach to Syrian infighting

As fighting in the Syrian city Hama, which has already reportedly taken more than 100 lives, continues, Moscow calls its partners in the United Nations Security Council to take a comprehensive and constructive approach to dealing with the situation.

The armed conflict between the government and the opposition in Hama continues. State news agency SANA reported that the city’s Justice Palace and some other governmental buildings have been plundered by the extremists. It also said anti-government forces set tires on fire to use the smoke as cover and make the city look more heavily damaged than it actually is.

On Wednesday, the military have taken the central part of the city under control, Reuters reports citing local sources. No report on casualties of the battle is available at the moment. Earlier, the opposition claimed at least 100 people have died over several days of the operation.

Phone lines have apparently been cut in Hama on Wednesday, reports Associated Press. It also cites London-based activist Rami Abdul-Rahman as saying that lines of tanks heading toward the city were seen earlier in the day, followed by explosions heard shortly after.

Opposition sources report that people in several Syrian cities, including Damascus, have taken to the streets on Tuesday to support defenders of Hama. The night rallies have been suppressed with tear gas, they say.

Meanwhile the UN Security Council has failed to agree on any statement or resolution on Syria. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin says the debate over the issue is a difficult one, but there is progress.

“It’s no secret that our Western colleagues believe that Damascus and the Syrian government are to be blamed for everything, and that the best way for the Security Council to go is to put maximum pressure on Syria and probably even use some enforcement on the part of the council,” he told the media on Tuesday in New York.

“Some other Security Council members, including Russia, see the situation as more complex, and this analysis draws us to the idea that the goal of the Council is to encourage all parties in Syria in dialogue, which would allow the country to overcome the current serious crisis,” he added.

According to Churkin, the initial draft resolution proposed by European members of the Security Council was “an aggravated version” of what was on the table two months ago and failed to win approval from Russia, China and other skeptical members. The debate on Tuesday ended with reworking of many dubious elements, which Moscow considers unacceptable for the final version, although more progress must be done before an agreement is reached, the diplomat said.

Authors of the text have changed their minds about the final format of the document, and at times they insisted on making it into a Security Council Resolution. Russia and some other members of the council believe such a reaction to be excessive and believe that “at the moment a milder form like an official statement of the Chair of the UN Security Council would be enough,” Churkin said.

He also assured that the Russian delegation had done everything to bring the council to a constructive and productive discussion. “Unfortunately our effort and the effort of our BRICS partners was not enough to reach our goal on Tuesday,” he said.