Europeans request UN rights briefing on Syria

France, Britain and Germany call for UN human rights chief to brief UN Security Council on situation in Syria.

The UN says more than 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since March [AFP]

France, Britain and Germany have called for UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay to brief the UN Security Council on Syria’s crisis in a bid to put the country’s deadly crackdown back in the diplomatic spotlight.

Diplomats from the three countries said they were ready to force a vote on the move at the 15-member council if a briefing was not agreed by consensus.

Russia and China vetoed a resolution on Syria at the Security Council in October, and along with countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil have resisted moves to renew discussion of the violence, which the UN says has left more than 4,000 people dead.

A final decision on Pillay’s briefing will be made on Friday and the UN Human Rights commissioner could appear before the council next Tuesday, diplomats said.

“It will be useful because it will allow the Security Council to examine its own responsibilities” in the crisis, a UN diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

Diplomats said they had noticed signs of a shift in attitude by opponents of a UN action against President Bashar al-Assad but Western nations are waiting to see what impact Arab League sanctions have on Syria.

Pipeline explosion

On the ground, activists reported on Thursday that at least 13 people were killed by security forces across Syria.

The fresh violence came as a pipeline carrying oil from the east to a refinery in the central city of Homs city was set ablaze.

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SANA, the state news agency, called Thursday’s fire and resulting explosion an act of sabotage by an armed terrorist group.

However, activists said government armed members hoping to place the blame on the protest movement started the fire.

Witnesses said Syrian media was immediately on the scene of the oil pipeline attack, next to a major military checkpoint in the restive city.

The narrator of an online video, appearig to show raging flames and black clouds of smoke in the Bab Amr neighbourhood of Homs, said the pipeline was attacked by a military force backed with armoured vehicles also pictured in the 40-second clip.

“Bab Amr, [this is] the armoured vehicle that attacked the oil pipeline, this is the armoured vehicle in Bab Amr and these are the Shabiha [pro-Assad armed groups] around the armoured vehicle, and this is another armoured vehicle, and this is the oil pipeline facing the vehicles,” the man could be heard saying.

Peaceful transition

In separate development, The Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition bloc, announced on Thursday that it would be presenting a plan for a transition of power in Syria in the next few days.

“The plan will be a sort of roadmap for a peaceful transition, with article one being that Assad has to resign and leave,” said SNC member Bassma Kodmani.

“We hope that it will be supported by the Arab world and the international community,” she said during a meeting with European legislators in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the SNC, said that Brazil, which has called for dialogue between the Syrian opposition and Assad, is “misinformed” about events in Syria.

“The situation is deteriorating and we are going to reach out to Brazil to explain what is happening and show the crimes committed by Assad,” Ghalioun said in the interview by the Brazilian daily Estado de Sao Paulo.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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