U.N. to review new draft Syria resolution

Jan. 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The U.N. Security Council received a new draft resolution from Russia on Syria opposing any firm action against the Assad regime, diplomats said.

Diplomats were to meet at the United Nations Tuesday to try to strengthen the Russia-submitted draft concerning the violent 10-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, the Financial Times reported.

Western diplomats dismissed the draft as too weak in its criticism of Assad but Russia has rejected a call for U.N. sanctions, saying opponents of Assad's government must be condemned along with the regime.

Meanwhile, Syria said Tuesday sending Arab forces into the country would "aggravate the situation."

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 people died Monday in Syria, including a 16-year-old girl and five soldiers trying to defect in the northwestern province of Idlib.

The United Nations has estimated 5,000 people have been killed since the nearly year-old popular uprising began.

The United Nations said it agreed to send a training team to Cairo, where the Arab League is located, to help Arab League monitors in Syria do a better job, the Times said. The league's monitoring mission has been heavily criticized, with activists claiming the mission is providing cover for Assad's regime to continue its crackdown.

The observers were sent to Syria as part of a peace deal the Assad government signed with the league.

Fighting between soldiers who defected and Syrian security troops appears to be nearing the capital city of Damascus, activists and state-run media report.

Meanwhile, the state-run news agency SANA reported an "armed terrorist group" killed six soldiers in an attack in Sahnaya, 6 miles southwest of the capital, Britain's The Guardian reported Tuesday in its blog on the situation in Syria.

SANA quoted a source in the Ministry of Foreign and Expatriates Affairs as saying Tuesday sending Arab forces into the country would "aggravate the situation, hinder the joint Arab work and open the door wide for the foreign interference in Syria's affairs."

The source said the Syrian people "reject all all forms of foreign interference in their affairs under any pretext, and they will confront any attempt to undermine Syria's sovereignty and its territorial integrity."

SANA said the ministry source called on Arab countries and the Arab League to help "stop the instigation campaigns and the media mobilization, which aim at aggravating the situation in Syria and facilitating the infiltration of the gunmen and the smuggling of weapons to the Syrian territories," and for them to help bring to the country "security and stability in a way that would pave the way for constructive national dialogue aiming at finding political solution to crisis in Syria."

Assad has blamed foreign interests and terrorists for fomenting unrest.

Activists said fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and pro-democracy fighters continues in Zabadini, a town northwest of the capital.

A blog by a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, which The Guardian said wasn't independently verified, said defections among Syrian troops continued and one regiment was unable to breach defenses in two cities as "more than 60 soldiers were killed after 250 officers and soldiers defected."

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