Russia, France discuss Syria crisis as at least 22 dead
Russia will not support the draft resolution on Syria that will be voted by the UN General Assembly Thursday, if it is "unfair" in its current form, according to a Russian source quoted by Interfax news agency. "The draft in its current form is inequitable and does not take into account our position," said the anonymous source, without further details. Earlier, it was reported that Moscow has requested several amendments to the text.
The Assembly is to vote Thursday afternoon in New York on a draft resolution condemning repression in Syria about two weeks after Moscow and Beijing vetoed a resolution with a similar text at the Security Council.
One amendment the Russian side requested to omit is to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gives his powers to his Vice President. Moscow opposes any regime change imposed by foreign elements.
Moscow also insists on recognizing the responsibility of the opposition to some of the violence. The adoption of the draft is likely but its importance is symbolic.
The Russian requests came after a meeting in Vienna between the French foreign minister Alain Juppe and his Russian peer Sergei Lavrov who discussed the French proposal to create "humanitarian corridors." The meeting ended without making any statement.
At least 22 dead
On the ground, Syrian regime forces attacked several rebel cities, including Homs and Hama. The violence killed at least 22 people.
According to Amnesty International, at least 377 civilians, including 29 children, have been killed in Homs since February 4. Hundreds of people suffered serious injuries in that city.
Further north, in Hama, four civilians and 10 deserters were killed in shelling by the Assad forces.
In Deraa, the cradle of the revolt in the south, a civilian was shot dead by troops and three soldiers were killed in clashes with army deserters, opposition activists said.