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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Syria crisis: UN resolution submitted by UK and France

The UK and France have presented a draft UN resolution condemning Syria's suppression of protests, but stopping short of authorising concrete action.

The text has faced stiff opposition from some Security Council members, who fear a resolution could be the first step towards military intervention.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrians have been fleeing into Turkey in an attempt to escape an expected crackdown.

Turkey said it would not close its doors to those seeking refuge.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was monitoring the situation, and called on Damascus to act with tolerance.

Those crossing into Turkey have been fleeing the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour, amid reports that the Syrian military are preparing a military assault there.

The government has pledged to restore control with determination and force in the area, after saying that 120 members of the security forces were killed there.

Human rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been killed since protests began in February against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
'Outrageous acts'

The draft UN resolution submitted by Britain and France with the support of Germany and Portugal condemns the systematic violation of human rights in Syria. It demands an immediate end to violence, and access for humanitarian workers.

It stresses that the only solution to the crisis is through an inclusive and Syrian-led process, which the BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN says is an attempt to satisfy Council members who want to avoid another Libya-style intervention.

Russia has voiced the strongest opposition to the resolution, and may use its veto power to block it, our correspondent reports.

"The world should not stand silent in the face of outrageous acts that are happening," said Britain's ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant.

Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the draft resolution focused on "condemning the repression and demanding accountability and humanitarian action".

"If anyone votes against that resolution, or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience," he added.

A British spokesman at the UN said that a UN vote was likely to take place later this week or early next week.
Trenches and sticks

In Jisr al-Shughour, residents who have stayed in the town have set up road-blocks in an attempt to stop security forces from entering.

The BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says there are no reports of action in Jisr al-Shughour itself yet, but that troop movements and preparations have been reported.

A resident of the town told the BBC that he expected the army to arrive in the town late on Wednesday.

Residents had dug trenches and were carrying sticks to protect themselves, he said.

"We are hoping that the army will side with us eventually, because they told the army that there are armed terrorists groups inside," he added.

"But the army will come to realise that this is incorrect and that there are no armed groups. So when the army realises this, they will side with us."

The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones on the Turkish-Syrian border says Turkish ambulances have been ferrying wounded evacuees into Turkey, with some being kept in a camp on the border and others being taken to a hospital in a nearby city.

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