News / Middle East

    Syria Slams UN Draft Resolution

    Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Homs November 18, 2011.
    Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Homs November 18, 2011.

    Syria's envoy to the United Nations has harshly criticized a draft resolution submitted by Germany to the General Assembly's human rights committee, which condemns the eight-month-long crackdown on opposition protests.

    Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the document, crafted by Germany, Britain and France, was introduced "in the context of declaring a political, media, and diplomatic war on Syria."  

    Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig, who introduced the nonbinding resolution, said 60 countries are co-sponsoring the document, including Syria's fellow Arab nations of Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.  Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country that has become increasingly critical of Damascus, is also co-sponsoring it.  

    The General Assembly's human rights committee is scheduled to vote on the document Tuesday.  

    The resolution calls on Damascus to implement the Arab initiative agreed to earlier this month.  It also strongly condemns "the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders."

    Meanwhile, relations between Turkey and Syria continued to deteriorate Monday after gunmen in northern Syria opened fire on a convoy of buses carrying Turkish pilgrims back from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

    Two Turkish citizens were wounded in the attack and were treated at a hospital after the convoy crossed into Turkey.  Turkish media said the buses were attacked at a checkpoint and showed pictures of one bus with numerous bullet holes.

    The latest incident came as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan again condemned the Syrian government for the eight-month-long crackdown on opposition protests and warned President Bashar al-Assad that his days are numbered.

    Mr. Erdogan said Syria's leaders can stay in power with tanks and cannons only up to a certain point and the day will come when they will also have to leave.

    In Moscow, Russia's Foreign Ministry accused Western nations of undermining the chances for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis by urging Mr. Assad's opponents not to seek compromise with the government.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated the Russian government position that the Syrian opposition shares responsibility for the violence and should face international pressure to enter talks.

    The Arab League, which earlier this month suspended Syria's membership in the 22-member grouping, plans to meet again Thursday to discuss the Syrian crisis.

    Damascus has been facing mounting international pressure to end the unrest. The United Nations says the crackdown has resulted in more than 3,500 deaths.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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