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29 Feb, 2012 08:50

UN flags ‘humanitarian’ resolution to Syria conflict

The UN Security Council has urged Russia and China not to veto a new resolution on Syria amid reports that the death toll in the conflict has topped 7,500. Meanwhile, anti-regime rhetoric has intensified with the US branding Assad a war criminal.

Washington has said the draft resolution places more emphasis on getting humanitarian aid to civilians in besieged areas of the violence-torn nation. The Security Council aims to win the support of Russia and China, who blocked previous attempts at passing a resolution. The new document calls for an immediate halt to violence in the country and the withdrawal of government forces to allow access for aid groups. In addition, it supports the Arab League plan for a peaceful transition of power through dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition groups.The draft resolution allows for additional measures to be considered if its requirements are not met within 14 days.“I solemnly ask Russia and China not to block this new resolution,” said French foreign minister Alain Juppé on Tuesday.China has signaled that it is prepared to back a resolution based on bringing humanitarian aid to the victims of the conflict which has reportedly claimed over 7,500 lives since it began last March."The pressing task now is for all sides to cease violence in the Syrian conflict, and to launch as soon as possible inclusive political dialogue, and together deliberate on a reform plan," said Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi in a telephone call to the head of the Arab League on Tuesday. He also stated that it was up to the international community to pave the way for the plan and “to extend humanitarian aid to Syria.”Russia disagreed with a previous resolution that lobbied for the immediate removal of President Assad, believing it to be unbalanced in favor of the Syrian opposition. Russian is currently pushing for the creation of humanitarian corridors in Syria to allow the Red Cross access to civilian victims of the conflict.

Cranking up the pressure on Assad

In other developments, Syrian ambassador Faysal al-Hamwi stormed out of an emergency UN meeting on Tuesday after accusing the UN Security Council of promoting terrorism and prolonging the crisis in Syria.Afterwards, US representative Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said the incident was indicative of the “delusional” nature of President Assad’s regime."I think it's a reflection to some extent of what's going on with the Assad regime itself, holding a referendum that is farcical and a mockery of democratic processes when they're in the midst of a humanitarian crisis of their own creation," she added.Ammar waqqaf of the Syrian Social Club says the West has been purposely undermining the democratic efforts of the Syrian authorities from the start. “The West did not welcome – and ridiculed – every single reformist step that the Syrian government promised to do or actually took. We’ve seen a lot of decreases in the past few months with regards to freedom of expression with regards to the multi-party election. They were ridiculed by saying they were either 'too little too late,' or not sufficient to undermine the Syrian government’s commitment to its reforms.”US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be classified as a war criminal for the deadly government crackdowns implemented by his security forces during the conflict. Anti-Assad rhetoric has been escalating in the US amid growing calls to arm the Syrian opposition. Military aid has hitherto been disregarded by the international community, which maintains it is committed to resolving the conflict peacefully.However, there are reports that arms are already being supplied indirectly to the Syrian opposition. A general in the opposition Free Syrian Army reportedly told a Reuters journalist on Tuesday that the group had received American and French weapons."We now have weapons and anti-aircraft missiles and, God willing, with all of that, we will defeat Bashar," the general said.RT correspondent Maria Finoshina, reporting from the Syrian border, spoke to a Syrian officer about the smuggling of foreign weapons into the country. He highlighted the fact that “advanced, developed weapons like sniper guns and night vision binoculars” which opposition forces now possess, were not freely available in Syria.Therefore, they must have been smuggled into the country.