Russia says West’s push on Syria ‘path to civil war’; Syrians plan for day of mourning
A senior Russian diplomat said on Tuesday that the push for adoption of a Western-Arab draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria was a “path to civil war,” the Interfax news agency reported as Syria’s opposition called for a “day of mourning and anger.”
“The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria will not lead to a search for compromise,” Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying. “Pushing it is a path to civil war.”
Syria’s opposition, meanwhile, called for a “day of mourning and anger” on Tuesday after almost 100 people, most of them civilians, reportedly died in spiraling violence ahead of a U.N. Security Council showdown, according to AFP.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was leading a Western charge pressing Russia to back U.N. Security Council action to stop a crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 7,000 people in the past 10 months.
But Russia, which has veto power in the council, has objected to a resolution introduced by Morocco under which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would accept a ceasefire and hand over power to a deputy ahead of talks.
According to Interfax, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he guarantees that his country will block the Security Council from approving any military intervention in Syria and that Assad remaining in power is not a prerequisite for resolving the crisis.
Lavrov added that he was too preoccupied with negotiations in Australia to find time to discuss the situation in Syria with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the opposition Syrian National Council deplored the international community’s lack of “swift action” to protect civilians “by all necessary means.”
On Monday, “the regime waged a bloody campaign of massacres and terrorism that killed 100 Syrians including women and children... in Homs, using tanks and heavy weapons to bomb neighborhoods,” it said, referring to the central city.
It called, in coordination with activists, for a “day of mourning and anger in the country to commemorate the victims of savage massacres,” urging mosques and churches to support the cause with prayer calls and ringing bells.
The SNC, the most representative group opposed to Assad, reaffirmed the “people’s determination to fight for their freedom and dignity,” stressing they “will not give up their revolution, whatever the sacrifices.”
“The regime is taking advantage of the cover provided to it by some regional and international parties to escalate its crackdown,” it added, in a likely reference to Iran and Russia.
An upsurge in violence on Monday, mostly in the flashpoint of Homs, killed almost 100 people, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The unrest, which also saw 25 soldiers killed, marked one of the bloodiest days of a revolt that erupted in March inspired by a wave of Arab uprisings that last year overthrew authoritarian leaders in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Amid the escalating violence which prompted the Arab League to suspend its observer mission to Syria, Clinton, the head of the League and the British and French foreign ministers headed to New York to push forward a U.N. resolution.
European Union leaders at a Brussels summit unanimously voiced outrage over the bloodshed in Syria.
Russia and China -- which have accused Western nations of misusing a U.N. mandate in their intervention to bring down Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi -- in October vetoed an earlier Western-backed draft resolution on Syria.
Gatilov expressed similar concerns about the latest draft resolution. Russia has longstanding ties to Syria and is the main supplier of weapons to Assad’s regime.
“The draft has statements in it calling on the member states to stop arms deliveries to Syria,” Gatilov told Interfax.
“But there is no clear line between arms contraband that some countries engage in to support extremist forces in Syria, and the legal military-technical ties with this country," he said.
Russia has instead called for Assad’s regime and the opposition to hold “informal contacts” in Moscow without any preconditions.
Asked about Russia’s call for talks, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States supported a political solution but was “intensely discussing” with Russia the “real deterioration on the ground” in Syria.
“The regime has lost control of the country and will eventually fall,” Carney said.
Ahead of the U.N. meeting, a French diplomatic source said “the balance within the Security Council has evolved” and that “at least 10” of the body’s 15 members could vote in favor of the new draft resolution.