NEW YORK - The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is warning that the most probable outcome of the current Syrian conflict is the escalation of violence and its spread to countries in the region. The meeting of the U.N. Security Council comes as U.N. monitors say 13 bodies have been discovered in northeastern Syria. The Council discussed the latest bloodshed in the 15-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice emerged from a closed-door meeting of the Security Council Wednesday and told reporters the most probable scenario in Syria is the worst case: a major crisis in Syria and in the region. “This becomes a proxy conflict with arms flowing in from all sides. And members of this Council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they are prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this Council," he said.
Ambassador Rice said that scenario is the one that the 15-member Security Council has tried to avoid by its support for the Syrian peace plan of international envoy Kofi Annan.
The decision, she said, rests with the Syrian government, whether it will fulfill its commitment to the peace plan. If Syria does not do that, she went on, the Security Council should act swiftly and surely. In terms of U.N. sanctions against Syria, Rice said that during the Security Council meeting there were differences of views, some countries expressing grave skepticism, some saying it is past due.
Russia continues to be among those countries expressing skepticism about sanctions.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters there are already very severe unilateral sanctions against Syria and that his country’s attitude toward U.N.-imposed sanctions continues to be negative. Asked about Rice’s comments of possible action outside the Security Council’s authority, Churkin emphasized the need for implementation of the Annan plan by all parties - the government, the opposition and the international community.
“If it doesn’t work - and this is something which you don’t have to quote my American colleague to me to absorb the significance of that. That’s what I’ve been saying for months, that the Syrian situation has very grave potential of impacting not only Syria in a very bad way, but the region," he said.
The Security Council expects to hear a report from Kofi Annan next week on his current talks in the Middle East. Mr. Annan left Syria Wednesday and went to talks with Jordanian officials. A U.N. official said the international envoy did not secure any major steps from the Syrian government to implement a faltering peace plan for the country.
Mr. Annan’s deputy, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, spoke from Geneva to the closed-door Security Council meeting. He said Syria needs to take steps to convince the international community and the Syrian people that it is ready for a new course. He called for concrete and significant gestures on the cessation of violence.
Meanwhile, U.N. observers reported that 13 bodies were discovered in Syria. The U.N. says all the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs and some appeared to have been shot in the head from a short distance.
U.N. observer mission chief Robert Mood said he is "deeply disturbed by this appalling and inexcusable act." He also called on all parties "to exercise restraint and end the cycle of violence."
International outrage has mounted since a massacre of more than 100 civilians, including women and children, took place in the central Syrian town of Houla last Friday.
The United Nations says more than 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the government began its crackdown on dissent in March 2011.