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UN Experts to Consider Proposal Condemning Syria

An image taken from a video posted on YouTube, May 20, 2011, shows a Syrian soldier pointing his rifle and firing at anti-regime protesters during a demonstration in Hama, north of Damascus

U.N. Security Council experts are expected to discuss a draft resolution on Thursday that would condemn Syria for its crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The draft - put forth by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal - appeals for an immediate end to violence in Syria. It also condemns what the European sponsors call a "systematic violation of human rights" that includes killings, arbitrary detentions, disappearances and the torture of peaceful demonstrators.

Rights groups estimate that roughly 1,000 people have died since the government started a crackdown to stop protests against President Bashar al-Assad that began in March.

U.S. President Barack Obama pressed for reforms in Syria after a Wednesday meeting in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Obama said Washington and its allies would continue "increasing pressure" on President Assad "to end his policy of repression and begin the change that people seek."

Meanwhile, in his first public comments on the Syrian uprising, Lebanon's Hezbollah leader said toppling the Damascus government would serve only U.S. and Israeli interests.

Hassan Nasrallah said most Syrians still back Assad and he urged them to "protect their country" and give the Syrian leadership a chance to implement reforms.

Facing months of popular unrest and mounting international criticism, Assad's government promised Wednesday to study economic reforms and a new media law.

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