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Russia vetoes UN statement on Syrian killings - again

Russia puts a hold on a Security Council statement declaring the Treimsa attacks to be a “violation” of the ceasefire.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Western countries are trying to blackmail Russia over its stance in the Syrian conflict.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Western countries are trying to blackmail Russia over its stance in the Syrian conflict.
Image: Seth Wenig/AP

RUSSIA HAS AGAIN blocked a proposed UN Security Council statement on mass killings in the Syrian village of Treimsa, diplomats said, amid worsening deadlock over international action on the conflict.

Russian envoys opposed the statement, saying it was not clear what had happened in Treimsa, council diplomats told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A draft statement had been proposed saying that Thursday’s attack on the village was a Syrian government “violation” of its commitments to UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan not to use heavy weapons. But Russia put a hold on its release.

Dozens of people were killed in Treimsa by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops and pro-government militias, according to Syrian activists. The government has denied involvement.

Russia called for Major General Robert Mood, the head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), to brief the council on the killings.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said UNSMIS was still trying to check the facts of what happened in Treimsa, but added that it was “quite apparent that something terrible happened there and that heavy weaponry was used.”

Western diplomats said they would now probably stop pressing for the statement, so that the 15-nation council can instead concentrate on negotiating a formal resolution on the future of the UN mission in Syria, which must be reached by Friday.

“I don’t think there is going be any press communique,” said Colombia’s UN ambassador Nestor Osorio, the council president for July.

Should there be sanctions?

Britain, France, United States, Germany and Portugal want a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that includes the threat of sanctions if Assad does not halt the use of heavy weapons. Russia rejects the threat of sanctions.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the Western nations were using “elements of blackmail” against his country to get an agreement on sanctions.

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Council ambassadors held more talks on the resolution on Monday. If they fail to agree a resolution by Friday, the UN Supervision Mission in Syria may have to close down this weekend.

Western nations want a vote on Wednesday, said France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud. ”We are very determined to go to a vote,” Araud told reporters before talks on the resolution. “Chapter VII will stay in the text.”

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Civil war declared in Syria as fighting escalates

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