Europeans seek UN condemnation of Syria as Hezbollah back legitimacy of Assad regime


As Lebanon’s Hezbollah backed the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, key European nations circulated a draft of a United Nations resolution Wednesday which condemned the embattled country, agencies reported.

The UN draft text was circulated by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal to all other members on the 15-nation Security Council in which it condemned Syria for its killing and torture of peaceful protesters and demanded an immediate end to the violence, The Associated Press reported.

Experts from council nations were scheduled to meet Thursday morning to discuss the draft, UN diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

While the draft doesn’t impose an arms embargo, it calls on all countries "to exercise vigilance and prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Syrian authorities or arms and related materiel of all types."

The draft also demands that Syria take immediate steps "to address the legitimate aspirations of the population," allow genuine political participation, release all prisoners of conscience and detainees, "and cease any intimidation, persecution, torture and arbitrary arrests of individuals including lawyers, human rights defender and journalists."

Meanwhile, Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad on the back of mass unrest would only serve US and Israeli interests.

The Syrian and Iranian-backed ally said he believed Mr. Assad was serious about making reforms, in response to pro-democracy protests that have gripped the country for nine weeks and which have presented the gravest challenge to the president's 11-year rule.

"All indications and information until now still affirm that the majority of the Syrian people support this regime and have faith in President Assad and are betting on his steps towards reforms," Reuters reported Mr. Nasrallah as saying in his first comments on Syria since protests broke out in March.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards set up Hezbollah in 1982 to fight Israeli forces that had invaded Lebanon. The group enjoys strong political and military support from Tehran and Damascus. The United States lists the group as a terrorist organization.

UN diplomats said they expect the violence in Syria and the draft resolution to be discussed by the leaders in Deauville, France probably on Friday morning during their session on the "Arab Spring."

The Group of Eight major industrialized nations - which include all the permanent council members except China - meet in Deauville for their annual summit.

The UN drafted also requested the Secretary-General to report on implementation of this resolution within 14 days of its adoption.

(Dina Al Shibeeb, an editor at Al Arabiya, can be reached at: [email protected])