On Saturday, the Arab League announced that it was halting its mission in Syria. Violence has dramatically stepped up, with activists reporting that 160 people have been killed in the past two days. The city of Homs, an epicenter of the protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime throughout the ten-month uprising, was bombarded with machine gun fire from the military; there are reports that children have been killed by snipers. Shelling was also reported in the suburbs of Damascus.
The Syrian army has reportedly control of Ghouta, an area that had recently been held by the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). Opposition forces counter that they actually have made a “tactical withdrawal” from the area and say that they will embark on more “guerilla-style” operations against Assad’s forces.
Will Russia Veto UN Security Council Resolution
Hillary Clinton, William Hague and Alain Juppé will all be present at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to voice their support for a resolution for political change in Syria. A vote on the resolution, which calls for Assad to transfer power to a deputy and form a unity government within two months, is likely on Thursday, after Arab League secretary general Nabil Elaraby and Qatari prime minister Hamad Bin Jassim present a report on the situation in Syria.
The White House says that it supports a political solution to end the crisis in Syria. White House spokesman Jay Carney says that Assad has lost control of his country and that he will fall.
But Russia has said that it will block the UN’s resolution because such a transfer of power “leaves open the possibility of intervention” in Syria’s internal affairs. Russia, which supplies Syria with arms and has a naval base at Tartous near the coastal city of Latakia, has said that Syrian authorities are ready to hold talks with the opposition in Moscow. Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council said that the council refuses to do so and that the resignation of Assad is necessary before any such talks and before any transition of power can occur in Syria.
France says that 10 out of the 15 countries who are on the Security Council support the resolution. As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russsia has the power to veto any resolution that is proposed. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov described the draft resolution as “not balanced.”
About 6,000 people have died since protests began in Syria ten months ago and thousands have been detained. The Syrian government says that over 2,000 soldiers have been killed and has blamed the unrest on “foreign conspirators” and “thugs.” Reports have emerged that a senior army defector, Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Harmoush, was executed last week by a firing squad, after disappearing under mysterious circumstances from a refugee camp in southern Turkey. Harmoush had been one of the first military officers to make a public declaration of his opposition to Assad last year.
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