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September 20, 2021

UN resolution could spur Syria civil war, Russia warns

MOSCOW – The Western-Arab drive to adopt a UN resolution on Syria is a “path to civil war”, Russian deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov has warned, according to the BBC. He told Interfax news agency it would “not lead to a search for compromise”.

The resolution was set to be discussed at a UN Security Council meeting on the deepening Syrian crisis. Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi was expected to ask the council to back the league’s new plan calling on President Bashar al-Assad to resign. But Russia had already threatened to veto any such resolution.

The diplomacy followed a day of particularly heavy bloodshed, with more than 100 people killed across Syria.

Activists say more than 40 civilians were among the dead in Monday’s violence, but their claims cannot be independently verified. The city of Homs, further north, saw the highest toll on Monday with 72 dead, activists say.

A Syrian foreign ministry official said of Western diplomatic moves that Syria would “defeat the policies of chaos”, state news agency Sana said. “We regret that those statements are still coming from countries accustomed to making the Middle East a field for their foolishness and failing experiments,” the official added.

The plan, proposed by the Arab League, calls for Assad to hand power to a deputy who would then form a government of national unity within two months. It has been backed by the US, UK and France, but rejected by the Syrian government.

France says 10 of the 15 countries on the Security Council now support the Arab League text. A minimum of nine council members must lend their backing in order for a resolution to be put to a vote.

However, Russia – as one of the five permanent council members – can veto any proposed resolution. Earlier Deputy Minister Gatilov told Interfax the current Western draft “certainly cannot be supported by us”. But in comments reported by Interfax, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Moscow had “never said that [President] Assad’s remaining in power is a prerequisite for a settlement. We said something else – we said that the decision has to be Syrian,” he said.

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