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March 27, 2023

U.N. considers Arab League plan for Syria mission as violence escalate

DAMASCUS – The United Nations was expected to take up an Arab League proposal Thursday calling for a joint monitoring mission in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad escalated a brutal assault against the opposition who want end to his regime, CNN said. The move follows what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as a “disastrous” failure this week by the U.N. Security Council to agree on a resolution to condemn the violence in Syria and call for al-Assad, in power for 12 years, to step down.

The fallout from the failed U.N. vote is playing out in the streets of the besieged city of Homs – Syria’s third-largest city – which has become a flashpoint in the uprising. Thursday, al-Assad’s forces began a fifth day of indiscriminate shelling and bombing neighborhoods, according to opposition groups.

The Syrian army has launched fresh mortar and rocket attacks in the city of Homs, as the government continues a push aimed at crushing rebel forces. Activists say at least 50 people have been killed on Thursday. Scores have died since the assault began last week, the BBC reported. More than 93 people, including 21 children, reportedly died Wednesday in fighting and shelling in Homs, according to the Syrian Revolution group, quoted by CNN.

The failed Security Council vote has also shaken relations among the world’s largest powers, after Russia and China vetoed the resolution that was supported by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.

On Thursday, China announced that it had met with members of a Syrian opposition delegation and urged the Syrian government to begin an inclusive political process. “We have done a lot of work to alleviate the situation in Syria,” Liu Weimin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told Chinese-state television. Russia, meanwhile, appeared to begin its own campaign against intervention in Syria, with President Dmitry Medvedev calling French President Nicolas Sarkozy to urge that the United States and the EU “avoid hasty unilateral steps” in Syria, according to Russian state-run Interfax news agency.

Meanwhile Germany announced it was expelling four diplomats from the Syrian embassy in Berlin. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Thursday that the move followed the recent arrest of two people suspected of spying on Syrian opposition figures in Germany.

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