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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Opposes UN Moves to Punish Syria

January 25, 2012

VOA News

Russia says it will not support United Nations actions on Syria that may include sanctions or military intervention.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday moves by the U.N. Security Council against Syria, a long-time Russian ally, would be "unfair and counterproductive."

U.N. diplomats say France, Britain and Germany have been working with Arab nations on a new Security Council resolution outlining a democratic transition from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

Moscow is a veto-wielding member of the Council. It joined China last October in vetoing a Western-backed resolution that would have condemned the Syrian government's violent crackdown on the revolt.

Lavrov said Russia is open to what he called a "constructive" resolution on Syria that explicitly rules out any interpretation that could justify foreign military action.

Arab League foreign ministers agreed to the transition plan on Sunday and authorized the regional bloc's chief to seek support for it at the United Nations.

Arab League members led by Gulf nations have become increasingly supportive of international action against Syria in recent weeks, as pro-Assad forces have continued attacking peaceful protesters and fighting deadly battles with army defectors.

In the latest violence, Syrian rights activists say government forces fired heavy weapons at the opposition hub of Hama late Tuesday and Wednesday, killing at least two people in the central Syrian city. They say security forces also killed at least five other civilians on Wednesday in attacks on centers of protest in Homs and Damascus.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday he has "no doubt" that Syria's government will soon find that the "forces of change can't be reversed." Speaking in his annual State of the Union national address, Obama said that while it is up to the people of the Middle East to decide their own fate, the United States will oppose "violence and intimidation" and stand for the "rights and dignity of all human beings."

"We will stand against violence and intimidation," said Obama. "We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings - men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty. And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests."

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. Syrian authorities say terrorists have killed about 2,000 security force members since the unrest began.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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