[QODLink]
Middle East
Obama and Putin urge end to Syria violence
US and Russian leaders agree on goal of international intervention but propose no new tactics for stopping bloodshed.
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2012 00:46
A severely damaged building is seen after shelling at the Al Qussoor area of Homs city on June 17, 2012 [Reuters]

US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have called for an "immediate" end to the Syria conflict, as 94 deaths were reported in a worsening artillery pounding of cities.

The call on Monday by the rival powers was made as Russia reportedly prepared to send two warships with marines to its naval base in Syria, where UN monitors have suspended their patrols because of escalating violence.

"In order to stop the bloodshed in Syria, we call for an immediate cessation of all violence," the two leaders said in a statement after meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

"We are united in the belief that the Syrian people should have the opportunity to independently and democratically choose their own future," the two leaders said.

Putin told reporters that he and Obama had found "many common points" on the 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama said he and Putin agreed on the need for a "political process" to halt the conflict and had pledged to work with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on the crisis.

But there was little sign they had agreed a way to end the conflict which monitors say has now cost more than 14,400 lives.

The US has voiced frustration at Russia's blocking of UN Security Council moves against Assad.

Meanwhile, the head of the UN mission in Syria is to brief the Security Council on Tuesday about the deteriorating conflict.

Warships en route

The US, Britain and France are working on a new UN Council resolution in which they want to threaten sanctions against Assad. But Russia, Syria's main international ally, and China have already blocked two resolutions which just hinted at measures.

Russia is preparing to send two amphibious assault ships and marines to the Syrian port of Tartus where Russia has a naval base to ensure the safety of its own nationals, Moscow news reports said.

The amphibious warships, The Nikolai Filchenkov and The Tsezar Kunikov, are to be sent to Tartus with a "large" group of marines, Interfax news agency quoted an officer at Russian naval headquarters as saying.

There was no official confirmation of the report by Russian authorities, however.

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

The Tsezar Kunikov can carry 150 troops and armaments including tanks, while The Nikolai Filchenkov can carry up to 1,500 tonnes of cargo and equipment, the report said.

Violence continues

Syrian government forces, meanwhile, pounded rebel strongholds in the central city of Homs and Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 94 people were killed across the country on Monday, including 63 civilians, three army deserters and 28 government troops.

Government troops stepped up a siege of Tasas in the southern province of Deraa, cradle of the anti-regime revolt, said the rebel Free Syrian Army.

The army broke into the south of Tasas and launched raids, said FSA spokesman Louay Rashdan.

One blast at Mohassan in the eastern province of Deir Ezzour killed seven people, including two rebel commanders, the Syrian Observatory said.

Clashes and shelling persisted in several areas of Damascus province, including the towns of Douma and Qudsaya which have been under bombardment for the past five days.

UN rights chief Navi Pillay has demanded a halt to the government bombardment of populated areas. "Such actions amount to crimes against humanity and possible war crimes," Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council.

599

Source:
Agencies
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.