Moscow calls for cooler heads over Syria

May 31, 2012 at 1:48 PM
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MOSCOW, May 31 (UPI) -- World leaders should avoid letting a weekend massacre in Syria erase any pragmatism regarding perceptions of the situation, Russian officials said.

The U.N.-backed Committee on the Rights of the Child said Thursday it was "appalled" by suggestions that at least 108 people were killed by Syrian forces in Houla. The committee said that 49 children, most of the under the age of 10, were killed during the massacre.

Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian envoy to the European Union, warned against reaching hasty conclusions in the wake of the incident.

"Honestly I would like to hope that the European leaders, as well as the leaders of other countries, will have enough common sense to take a sober view of the situation and not take the path of ratcheting up tension, let alone armed intervention," he was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Russia and China, two veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, object to formal resolutions condemning Syria for the conflict for fear of adding another military dimension to the crisis. Syria is one of Russia's largest military customers.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Wednesday that the Houla massacre represented "the tipping point" in the crisis.

She said that if the violence escalated to the point that it takes on a sectarian element and other countries become involved, unity within the Security Council "is exploded" and action outside the authority of the United Nations might be considered.

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