WASHINGTON – In a surprising move, Russia introduced a draft resolution on Syria to the UN Security Council.
The draft holds Damascus responsible for "disproportionate use of force" and represents a shift from Moscow's position so far, as the Kremlin has steadfastly blocked the Security Council's attempts to censure Syrian President Bashar Assad for his brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
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Russia’s draft, while strongly condemning the violence, was deemed "too soft," and was rejected; but Western envoys said the while the Russian text was too weak, they were willing to negotiate over it, offering the council a chance to overcome its deadlock and issue its first resolution on Syria's nine-month-old crackdown on protesters.
Anti-Assad rally in Homs (Photo: Reuters)
The US welcomed Moscow’s new position: “Hopefully we can work with the Russians, who for the first time at least, have recognized that this is a matter that needs to go to the Security Council. It’s just we have differences in how they are approaching it, but we hope to be able to work with them,” US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said.
Western diplomats believe a firm Security Council resolution backed by Russia, Syria's longstanding ally, could make a real difference to the crisis.
The United Nations says 5,000 civilians have been killed in Assad's crackdown on protests inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world. Assad has denied any orders were issued to kill demonstrators and says gunmen have killed 1,100 of his forces.
Reuters contributed to this report
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