US, allies urge UN action to end violence in Syria
UNITED NATIONS / DAMASCUSThe U.S. and its allies challenged Russia on Jan. 31 to overcome its opposition to a U.N. draft resolution, while Russia has signaled it would veto any U.N. action against Damascus.
In the meantime, Syrian troops battled army defectors in a string of towns in the mountains overlooking Damascus yesterday in a new assault to crush rebellious areas around the capital, activists said. “It is time for the international community to put aside our own differences and send a clear message of support to the people of Syria,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the U.N. Security Council, backing an Arab League plan for the country. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow “would never allow the Security Council to authorize anything similar to what happened in Libya.”
Fall of Syrian regime inevitable: US spy chief
But Clinton said U.N. action in Syria would not involve military intervention. Russia has exasperated the West by refusing to back a resolution which calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. “There is going to be ‘no’ vote in the next days,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said. Top diplomats from Britain, France and the Arab League pressed the same point: The objective of the draft resolution was not military involvement. Meanwhile, the U.S. national intelligence chief has said al-Assad’s regime will inevitably collapse in the face of mounting protests. “I do not see how he [al-Assad] can sustain his rule of Syria,” the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told senators.
The opposition was “fragmented” but was piling pressure on al-Assad, he said. Clashes between the opposition and Syrian forces continued yesterday. At least eight civilians and 15 soldiers were killed on Feb. 1 during fierce clashes in the central Syrian city of Homs, activists said. Meanwhile, the Arab League made a rare call for the council to condemn violence in Syria. Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari lashed out at the Arab League, accusing it of acting without consulting the Syrian leadership.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by Daily News staff.