News / Middle East

UN Debates Resolution Condemning Syria As Unrest Continues

Mourners carry the body of a person during a funeral ceremony in the city of Homs, Syria in this image made from amateur video released by Ugarit News, Aug. 2, 2011
Mourners carry the body of a person during a funeral ceremony in the city of Homs, Syria in this image made from amateur video released by Ugarit News, Aug. 2, 2011

New diplomatic efforts to pressure Syria to end its crackdown on dissent got underway at the United Nations Tuesday as government forces stepped up attacks on the flashpoint city of Hama.

The U.N. Security Council is holding a second day of debate on a draft resolution condemning the violence in Syria.

But Russia and India voiced concerns about the measure shortly before the session got underway. U.N. envoys for the two countries said the text of the new resolution was only slightly different than an earlier version that was rejected.

Also, a Russian Foreign Ministry official voiced opposition to any measure that included sanctions on Syria.

Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with Syrian political activists in Washington on Tuesday in what is her first attempt to reach out to the expatriate opposition since the start of anti-government protests.

Meanwhile, activists and witnesses say pro-government forces are pounding the central city of Hama. The Reuters news agency says three civilians were killed when government forces opened fire in the city.

Activists and witnesses say at least 24 civilians were killed in attacks in several cities on Monday.

The draft U.N. Security Council resolution expresses "grave concern" about the situation in Syria and condemns the use of force. It urges the government to lift its siege of Syrian towns, implement political reforms and launch an impartial investigation into attacks on anti-government demonstrations.

Earlier Tuesday, Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria, citing what it called the "horrible repression of the civilian population."

Also, the European Union has expanded its sanctions against the Syrian government. The EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on five more officials, including Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmud.

Human Rights groups say Syrian forces have killed at least 1,600 civilians in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown. The government has blamed much of the violence on terrorists and militants who it says have killed hundreds of security personnel.

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

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