Members of the United Nations Security Council are considering Friday a new draft resolution to end the bloodshed in Syria, with an amendment designed to overcome Russian objections.
United Nations Security Council (file photo)
U.N. ambassadors say the new draft will be sent back to their governments for evaluation, but it is not clear whether the revision will gain approval by the 15-member Council.
On Thursday they failed to reach agreement on a draft European-Arab resolution to end the bloodshed in Syria, after a third straight session of talks.
The previous draft had said the Council "fully supports" an Arab League proposal for a political transition in Syria, but no longer included an explicit call for President Bashar al-Assad to delegate his powers and form a unity government ahead of elections.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told a closed-door session of the world body Thursday that Moscow will veto the draft if it is submitted with the phrase "fully supports" still intact.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, has promised to reject any text that hints at regime change or that does not explicitly rule out foreign military intervention.
Churkin has taken a neutral stance on whether Russia will approve the new wording, while U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice has downplayed expectations, saying discussions are still underway.
Also Thursday, Russia's deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov said Moscow will keep selling arms to Syria despite mounting international condemnation of President Bashar Assad's bloody crackdown on an 11-month opposition uprising. A clause in the U.N. draft resolution expressing "grave concern at the continued transfer of weapons into Syria" was stricken from the text.
Earlier, despite a heavy security clampdown in the central Syrian city of Hama, protesters splashed red paint symbolizing blood in the streets to commemorate Hafez al-Assad's February 1982 assault on the rebellious city. Amnesty International has estimated that between 10,000 and 25,000 people were killed in the siege, although conflicting figures exist and the Syrian government has never published an official toll.
The incident carried out by Assad's late father is considered one of the most infamous massacres in the modern Middle East.
In contrast, the current unrest began with months of peaceful protests that have since given way to an armed uprising intent on ousting Assad from power.
The Syrian government accuses armed terrorists of driving the anti-Assad revolt and killing 2,000 security personnel. The United Nations estimated the death toll from the unrest at 5,400 last month, before it stopped updating the figure because of difficulties in obtaining information.
More than 300 people were killed nationwide during the past week alone. Much of the violence has occurred near Damascus as government troops drove the rebel Free Syrian Army out of the city's eastern suburbs during several days of heavy fighting.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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