Saturday, February 4, 2012


U.N. Security Council fails to pass resolution on Syria.

United Nations (CNN) -- As international anger grows over reports of mass carnage at the hands of the Syrian regime, a U.N. Security Council draft resolution condemning Syria failed to be adopted Saturday after veto-wielding members Russia and China voted against it.

Ambassadors from the other permanent members of the council -- the United States, France, and the United Kingdom -- said they were furious at Russia and China for failing to halt the worsening, bloody violence that has consumed the Middle Eastern nation.

Thirteen Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution.

"Those that have blocked potentially the last effort to resolve this peacefully ... will have any future blood spill on their hands," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN after the vote. "The people of Syria have yet again been abandoned by this Council and by the international community."

Some Syrians have cried out for international action to stop attacks on civilians, more so after opposition groups said at least 321 civilians were killed and hundreds wounded in the city of Homs in the past two days.

The opposition Syrian National Council blamed government forces for the attack in Homs, calling it one of the most "horrific massacres" since the start of the Syrian uprising. It said residential buildings and homes were "randomly and heavily bombed," the group said.

The Local Coordination Committees, a Syrian opposition group, said 90 people had been killed in Syria on Saturday, including 61 in Homs, 10 in Idlib, and 19 in a Damascus suburb.

Some residents accused the international community of sitting idle as bodies mount in the streets.

"The U.N. isn't doing anything about it. The Arab League isn't doing anything about it. ... While they're having their little discussion, people are sitting here and they're dying," said an activist identified as Danny.

Homs resident Abu Abdo Alhomsy described continuous bombing and snipers perched throughout the city.

"There are so many people on the streets that are wounded and they need help, but we can't reach them to help them," he said. "They're ready to kills us all. They have no problem with doing that. Please, we call (on) the international community for help."

Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, said his country has been "targeted by some powers seeking to punish it."

Jaafari called the crisis "manufactured" and said there is a media campaign to make the Syrian regime look bad.

In a strongly-worded statement before the vote, U.S. President Barack Obama said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy and that the international community "must work to protect the Syrian people from this abhorrent brutality."

He pointed the finger directly at al-Assad and what he called his "killing machine."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the vote was a lost opportunity to halt the violence. The resolution would have demanded that al-Assad stop the killing and answer international calls aimed at finding a Syrian-led solution to the crisis.

U.S. Ambassador Rice said the United States was "disgusted" at the veto by Russia and China.

Referring to Russia, she said, "This intransigence is even more shameful when you consider that one of these members continues to deliver weapons to Assad."

The Russian foreign minister has spoken in defense of Russian arm sales to Syria, saying they did not affect the regional balance of power.

Russia, which counts Syria as a major weapons client, has made clear that it will not accept an arms embargo or economic sanctions.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the United Kingdom was "appalled" at the veto.

"Those who blocked the council action today must ask themselves how many more deaths they will be prepared to tolerate," Lyall Grant said.

It effectively means Russia and China "support tyranny rather than the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," he said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the resolution supported Arab League efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria.

"It did not impose any sanctions, nor did it authorize military action," Hague said. "There was nothing in the draft to warrant opposition."

Jaafari said such statements "fan the flames of escalation of the violence and bloodshed" and "betray the true hostile, genuine intentions against Syria, the people of Syria, and the government of Syria."

All along, he said, "the tone of their statements was not diplomatic ... when they describe the government of Syria as a 'regime' and addressed the president of the state of Syria with inappropriate language."

Speaking after the vote, ambassadors from both Russia and China said they do support an end to the violence but felt the resolution did not address the crisis properly.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the text "did not adequately reflect the real state of affairs and sent an unbalanced signal" to the various sides in Syria. He noted that the minister for foreign affairs will visit Damascus to hold a meeting with al-Assad in three days.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong called on all parties in Syria to stop the violence and restore order as soon as possible. But he said the text would have served only to "complicate the issue" and would "prejudge the result of dialogue."

China and Russia vetoed another Security Council resolution in October that would have called for an immediate halt to the crackdown, which United Nations officials have said has resulted in an estimated 6,000 deaths since protests began nearly a year ago.

"Since these two members last vetoed a resolution on Syria, an estimated 3,000 more civilians have been killed," Rice said Saturday.

Earlier Saturday, Tunisia said it would expel the Syrian ambassador from Tunis in response to the killings in Homs, while British Foreign Secretary William Hague and his French counterpart Alain Juppe condemned the violence.

Obama noted the violence in Homs came as the Syrian people were celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohammed and marking 30 years since al-Assad's father oversaw a massacre in the city of Hama.

The resolution voted on Saturday had dropped demands from an Arab League plan for Syria to form a unity government and for al-Assad to delegate power to his deputy.

U.N. diplomats said the changes reflected a big concession to Russia, which had been reluctant to sign on to any plan that could be seen as a mandate for regime change in Damascus.

The Syrian National Council said it hopes Syria can "democratically elect a regime that ensures freedom and dignity for all Syrians." It called for Russia to change its stance, condemn the Syrian regime and hold it accountable for mass killings.

CNN cannot independently confirm opposition or government reports from Syria because the regime has restricted journalists' access to the country.

But news of the violence in Homs led to protests breaking out at Syrian embassies in Cairo, Berlin, Washington, Kuwait and London on Friday and Saturday.

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