Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and to “facilitate” a political transition in the Arab country. 13 out of the 15 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution to end the increasingly bloody unrest, which has now entered its eleventh month in Syria.
New York-based Human Rights Watch immediately issued a statement:
“Vetoes by Russia and China are not only a slap in the face of the Arab League, they are also a betrayal of the Syrian people.”
“The death toll had more than doubled in the last four months, and the risk is high that the Assad regime will see this double veto as a green light for even more violence.”
The Chinese envoy said that “sanctions, or the threat of sanctions, do not help resolve the questions of Syria” and might only “further complicate the situation.” Russia’s envoy insisted that a “unilateral, accusatory bent against Damascus” is counter to the “principle of a peaceful settlement of a crisis on the basis of full Syrian national dialogue.”
Earlier on Saturday, President Obama had called for Assad to step down:
Thirty years after his father massacred tens of thousands of innocent Syrian men, women, and children in Hama, Bashar al-Assad has demonstrated a similar disdain for human life and dignity. Yesterday the Syrian government murdered hundreds of Syrian citizens, including women and children, in Homs through shelling and other indiscriminate violence, and Syrian forces continue to prevent hundreds of injured civilians from seeking medical help. These brutal killings take place at a time when so many Syrians are also marking a deeply meaningful day for their faith. I strongly condemn the Syrian government’s unspeakable assault against the people of Homs and I offer my deepest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones. Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately.
Speaking of the “abhorrent brutality” taking place in Syria, Obama called for a political solution to the crisis and demanded that Assad’s “killing machine” be stopped.
Back in October, Russia and China had blocked a Security Council resolution supported by the US and Western allies. Susan Rice, the US envoy to the UN, condemned today’s double veto:
Since these two members last vetoed the resolution an estimated 3,000 Syrians have been killed, with nearly 250 killed just yesterday. Many thousands more have been held and tortured.
The Security Council vote, and Russia’s and China’s vetoes, happened amid reports of the bloodiest massacre yet in Syria, with over 200 killed in Homs after the army attacked it with mortars, machine guns and tanks late on Friday. Women and children are reportedly among those killed.
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