Syria Unrest spreads to Aleppo( DP-News - AP)
|Pro-regime Rally in Aleppo(Archive)|
Source DP-News - AP
SYRIA- Violence in the country has raged on as diplomats at the United Nations wrangle over an Arab and Western draft resolution condemning today’s Syrian authorities for a military crackdown on an 11-month-old revolt in which thousands of people have been killed.
Protests erupted on Friday in Syria’s main commercial hub of Aleppo, which has so far remained largely on the sidelines of the uprising.
Overnight bombardment on the town of Anadan, a few kilometers from Aleppo, killed one man and wounded five after insurgents and army defectors attacked roadblocks manned by loyalist troops. Rebels in Tel Rifaat, another town to the north, blocked the main highway to Turkey.
In Aleppo itself, gunfire was heard in two neighborhoods. Militiamen loyal to Assad, known as ‘shabbiha’, fired at random overnight at a third district where defiant calls of “God is greatest” echoed from roofs and windows.
Activists reported arrest campaigns and heavy gunfire in several areas and said at least four people had been killed, including two children in northern Idlib province and two civilians on the edges of Damascus, where the government beat back rebels who temporarily seized towns last week.
The state news agency SANA said three members of the security forces, including an army lieutenant, had been killed in a clash with an “armed terrorist group” in the southern province of Daraa.
The agency has reported military funerals of around 100 soldiers and police in the last week, adding to the 2,000 members of Assad’s security forces who authorities reported late last year had been killed.
Syrian forces shot dead one person in the city of Hama on Friday as they broke up a protest marking the anniversary of a 1982 massacre by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s father, activists told Associated Press.
Protests were held across Syria on Friday after the prayers under the banner “Hama, forgive us.”
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces dispersed the demonstrations in the Janoub Al-Malaab district of Hama, where residents planned to release 1,000 red balloons to mark the killing of more than 10,000 people when President Hafez Assad’s forces crushed an uprising in 1982.
Opposition activists say President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have stepped up operations around the country after appearing to crush rebels who brought the fight to the outskirts of the capital.
It was not possible to verify activist or state media reports as Syria restricts access for independent media.
At the UN Security Council, Arab and Western drafters of a resolution condemning Syria’s crackdown revised their text on Thursday in an effort to avoid a Russian veto, though their draft included language Moscow has rejected.
Morocco circulated a new draft after Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the 15-nation council that he would veto the draft if it were put to a vote on Friday with a phrase saying the council “fully supports” an Arab League plan calling for Assad to step aside, Western diplomats said.
That phrase remained in the text. But several diplomats said Churkin’s threat had more to do with the timing than the substance of the resolution and thought it might still be possible to persuade Russian to abstain or back the resolution.
“He made the threat, but I don’t think he’ll necessarily have to follow through with it,” a diplomat said. It’s still possible to avoid a veto.”
Moscow has demanded language explicitly ruling out the use of external force in Syria, though the current draft makes clear the council wants the crisis resolved peacefully and the resolution could not be used as the basis for military intervention as in Libya’s uprising last year.
The draft does not threaten Syria with sanctions, also rejected by Russia, but includes a vague reference to possible “further measures” in the event of Syrian non-compliance.
Morocco’s UN envoy, Mohammed Loulichki, told reporters he would seek a vote on the amended draft resolution “as soon as possible.”
Colombian envoy Nestor Osorio said the council would continue discussions on the draft, sponsored by Morocco, France, Britain, the United States,0 Germany, Portugal, Colombia, Togo, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Turkey.
A vote may not be imminent and further revisions could follow. France said it foresaw by Monday at the latest.
Russia has balked at any language that would open to door to “regime change” in Syria, its most important Middle East ally.
Moscow has a naval base in Syria and is a major arms supplier to Damascus, and so bristles at outsiders trying to dictate internal political change in Damascus.
The surging violence in the last week prompted the Arab League to suspend its monitoring mission in Syria on Jan. 28, from which Gulf Arab observers had already withdrawn.
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