Britain, France To Put Forward UN Resolution On Syria
British Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain and France will put forward a United Nations Security Council draft resolution condemning the "repression" by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Cameron, speaking in parliament on June 8, said the resolution will also demand "accountability and humanitarian action."
Russia and China, who have abstained in the UN vote authorizing NATO action to protect Libyan civilians, have both made clear they oppose the idea of an anti-Assad UN resolution.
Rights groups say at least 1,300 people have been killed since protests against Assad's regime began in mid-March.
Turkey 'Won't Close Its Doors'
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will not "close its doors" to refugees fleeing violence in Syria amid a brutal government crackdown on dissent.
His comments come as hundreds of Syrian refugees arrived in Turkey, and as Western allies push for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Damascus for its crackdown against antigovernment protesters.
More than 120 Syrians, including women and children, crossed the border into Turkey overnight to seek refuge from what they fear is an imminent government crackdown in the northwestern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur, the scene of recent bloodshed.
They were being housed in tents set up near the border in Turkey's Hatay Province.
Hundreds Crossing Border
Dozens of refugees had crossed into Turkey from Syria earlier on June 7, including many women and children with injuries reportedly sustained in violence at Jisr al-Shughour in recent days. Reports said hundreds more were trying to cross the border today.
Erdogan said Ankara is monitoring developments in Syria with concern and called on Damascus to show more tolerance toward its citizens.
Syrian rights groups say at least 42 people have been killed by government troops at Jisr al-Shughour since June 4. Syrian state television reported that 120 of Syria's highly trained security officers had been killed in clashes at Jisr al-Shughour on June 6 with "armed gangs" -- a term used by the Syrian regime to describe those who demonstrate against President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Hundreds more residents of Jisr al-Shughour reportedly were camping on the Syrian side of the border after Syria's Interior Ministry threatened strong and decisive action in Jisr al-Shughour.
Syrian rights groups say more than 1,100 antigovernment demonstrators have been killed and more than 10,000 detained by government troops since the uprising began in mid-March.
The developments come as Britain, France, and other Western countries lead efforts pushing for a UN Security Council vote condemning the regime in Damascus.
A vote by the 15-member Security Council on a resolution could embarrass Russia and China by forcing them to use their veto powers.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on June 7 that Moscow is against the idea of a resolution.
peaking to reporters during a visit to Oslo, Lavrov said any work to resolve the crisis in Syria through the UN Security Council "should have the goal to solve problems by political means and not to create the conditions for another armed conflict."
A current draft resolution drawn up by France, Britain, Germany, and Portugal condemns the crackdown by Assad's regime and warns that the violence could constitute crimes against humanity. It does not make any reference to military action or sanctions.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced plans to circulate the draft resolution in Washington on June 6, saying he thought there already is support from 11 of the 15 Security Council members.
"We'll see what the Russians will do," Juppe said. "If they veto, they will take their responsibility. Maybe if they see that there are 11 voters in favor of the resolution, they will change their mind -- though it's a risk to take and we're ready to take it."
France says it is inconceivable that the UN would remain silent about the government's use of force against opposition demonstrators.
But Lavrov said the UN Security Council and the international community are already entangled in the conflict in Libya after a Security Council vote in March that authorized NATO action to protect Libyan civilians.
Russia abstained from that Libya vote and has questioned whether the NATO-led mission has gone beyond that UN mandate by pushing for the ouster of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi's regime.
Russia has been a close Syrian ally and has a naval base at Tartus on Syria's eastern Mediterranean coast.
Signs Of Defection
Meanwhile, there are signs that some Syrian troops and officials have been defecting from Assad's regime in protest of the government's violent crackdowns on dissent.
But Syria's ambassador to France today denied reports that she is among those resigning, saying a broadcast of the announcement by a woman claiming to be her was a hoax.
Ambassador Lamia Shakkur appeared on France's BFM television to set the record straight today after another channel, France 24, broadcast a telephone interview with a woman apparently posing as her who said she was quitting to protest the "cycle of violence" in Syria.
Appearing in front of a Syrian flag and a portrait of President Assad today, Shakkur said she will "bring a complaint to convict" the French TV channel "for these acts of misinformation, which are part of a campaign of false information against Syria."
compiled from agency reports
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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