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UN Security Council weighs Syria resolution
Council members consider draft resolution condemning violence in Syria, as new video emerges of bloody crackdown.
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2011 04:29

 

A European resolution demanding Syria end its violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters could be put to a vote in the coming days at the United Nations despite the threat of a Russian veto, the British UN envoy said.

The UN Security Council debated a draft resolution on Wednesday condemning Syria's actions.

The draft was submitted by France and Britain during a council meeting at which the 15-nation body was briefed by a senior UN official on the unrest in Syria.

"We would like a vote as soon as possible, before the end of the week," Mark Lyall Grant, the British representative to the UN, said. 

Russia and China, which both hold vetoes, have made clear they dislike the idea of council involvement, which they say could help to destabilise a strategic Middle Eastern country.

Moscow has long been an ally and arms supplier of Syria.

However, the proposal falls short of calling for military action or further UN sanctions against the Syrian government.

In a challenge to potential opponents, David Cameron, the British prime minister, told the UK parliament earlier on Wednesday that "if anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience".

However, Russia, citing NATO's inconclusive bombing of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, said it would veto intervention against Syria in the Security Council.

'Struck by fear'

Amid the political developments, more video of the bloody crackdown on protesters in Syria surfaced. Al Jazeera received exclusive pictures from sources inside Syria, which appear to illustrate the suffering and torture at the hands of Syrian security forces.

The amateur footage was sent from the village of Jeeza, and shows the funeral of 15-year-old Thamer Mohamad Sahri, who was arrested on April 29 during an anti-government protests, following a crackdown in the town of Deraa.

The boy's body appears to be riddled with bullets. He is missing an eye, several teeth, and according to Al Jazeera's source has a broken neck and leg.

Thamer was arrested along with his friend, 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb - the teenager whose brutal death caused much of the world to pay closer attention to the events in Syria. Al-Khateeb's body was also mutilated.

Those pictures emerged as the unrest continued in Syria, with residents of the northern town of Jisr al-Shughur fleeing amid fears of a military crackdown, three days after the government vowed retaliation for the alleged killings of 120 security personnel.

Locals said many residents were fleeing the area for the Turkish border about 20km away, before the expected assault.

About 160 Syrians crossed into Turkey in two separate waves on Wednesday, an AFP news agency reporter at the scene said.

"People were struck by fear and panic after the government statements ... it's clear they are preparing for a major massacre,'' a resident told the AP news agency on Tuesday.

Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar, the interior minister, said on Monday that "the state will act firmly, with force".

The large number of Syrians fleeing the country amid the crackdown on protesters is deeply worrying, the head of the United Nations refugee body said on Wednesday.

"There is a meaningful number of Syrians who have crossed the border into Turkey ... and of course this is an area of enormous concern to us," Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Stockholm.

Turkey criticism

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, has said his country will not close its doors to refugees fleeing the unrest in Syria.

Speaking on Wednesday, Erdogan said: "At this point it is out of the question for Turkey to close its doors to refugees coming from Syria. The recent developments are really unfortunate.

"We are monitoring developments with concern as we have very different information and it raises our concerns."

Erdogan called on Damascus to show more tolerance towards its citizens after the latest clashes in the northwest.

"We hope Syria will be more tolerant towards civilians and implement persuasive reforms so the transitional process can be effective," he said.

A foreign ministry official said around 420 people have crossed the border from Syria since the bloody protests started in March.

Turkey has built strong ties with Syria in recent years and has been exerting growing pressure on al-Assad, with Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, calling on him to introduce "shock therapy" reforms to end the trouble.

'Mutilated bodies'

Security forces have been conducting military operations in Jisr al-Shughur for several days as part of a crackdown on anti-government protests. Activists say 42 people have been killed.

State television reported that 120 members of the security forces were killed in an ambush on Monday by "armed gangs" who had "mutilated bodies and thrown others into the Assi river" and burnt public buildings.

Activists said the security forces were shot by government troops, after they refused to open fire on civilians.

Foreign journalists are barred from travelling around Syria, making it difficult to report on the unrest and verify government and eyewitness accounts of the violence.

Activists say about 1,100 people have been killed in Syria since anti-government protests began in March.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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