Syria yesterday “categorically rejected” an Arab League resolution calling for a joint Arab-UN peacekeeping mission to end the country’s 11-month uprising. Syria’s envoy in Cairo, Yusuf Ahmed, said the plan “reflected the hysteria of these governments.”
The European Union has backed the Arab League’s “bold” plan, but Russia has made clear it would not support a peacekeeping mission unless violence ends first – leaving international action at this point unlikely. From Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated that international pressure to end the upheaval should focus on the opposition as well as on Bashar Assad’s regime. He added that armed groups that were “not under control,” prevented the deployment of peacekeepers.
Speaking from South Africa, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that an Arab-UN mission could have an “important role in saving lives,” and that the UK would be discussing the proposal with the Arab League and “international partners” ahead of a “Friends of Syria summit scheduled for 24 February in Tunisia.
Meanwhile yesterday, the UN General Assembly started a debate on the Syrian crisis. Navi Pillay, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, told the general assembly that the inability of the UN to put out any kind resolution on Syria had increased the bloodshed. “The failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian government to launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force,” she said.
Activists say more than 400 people have been killed since security forces launched an assault on opposition-held areas on the city this month. Human rights groups say more than 7,000 have died throughout Syria since last March.