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May 7, 2021

Russia ponders Syria peacekeeping force proposal

A new UN resolution could be put to a vote on Wednesday or Thursday.

Fear and horror paralyzed residents in the Syrian city of Homs yesterday, with snipers preventing anyone from moving and heavy shelling blasting through the air, opposition activists said, according to CNN.

While U.N. diplomats slammed the Syrian regime for the country’s mounting bloodshed, residents wondered out loud what the implications of total war might be.

“Everyone we’ve been talking to … believes that the country is heading towards, or already is in, a full-blown war, and recovering from that is going to be incredibly challenging,” said CNN’s Arwa Damon, who reported from inside Syria early Tuesday. “What a lot of people are realizing and accepting at this stage is that this is going to be a bloody battle – that more lives are going to be lost,” Damon said.

Her report came a day after the U.N. high commissioner for human rights denounced the Syrian government’s “ongoing onslaught” against its citizens. Navi Pillay spoke before the U.N. General Assembly, which could issue a formal condemnation of the Syrian regime. Her harsh comments prompted an angry defense from Syria’s ambassador, who complained of an “unprecedented” media and political campaign to incite the opposition in his country. But Tuesday morning, like clockwork, government forces once again shelled the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs at dawn, activists said. Tuesday’s shelling was among the heaviest in the past five days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.

More than 680 people died last week in Syria, most of whom were killed in Homs, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists. On Monday, 30 civilians – including two children – were killed in violence, the LCC said. Most were in the areas of Homs and Idlib.

China’s ambassador to Syria met Monday with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby for what the Chinese Foreign Ministry called “frank and useful” talks about the situation in Syria. Li Huaxin told reporters in Cairo that China is calling on all parties to immediately stop the violence, Voice of America reported yesterday.

“We are not trying to oppose or defend either side. All we are trying to do is find the best interest for the sake of the Syrian people,” he said.

China and Russia vetoed a Western- and Arab-backed resolution on Syria earlier this month. It would have endorsed an Arab League plan for Mr. Assad to hand power to a deputy and allow the formation of a unity government to prepare for democratic elections.
The Obama administration said Monday it is in talks with international partners about the Arab League’s latest proposal to deploy a joint Arab-U.N. peacekeeping force in Syria.

Damascus has rejected the Arab peacekeeping idea, saying it reflects the “hysteria” of Arab governments who have failed to achieve a Security Council resolution authorizing foreign intervention in Syria.

Russia would back a UN resolution

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Tuesday that the UN Security Council should approve a mandate of any international mission in Syria, Ria Novosti informs.  At the last meeting of the Arab League it was decided to send UN peacekeeping forces to Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was studying the suggestions of the Arab League. Later Russian Presidential Middle East Ambassador Mikhail Bogdanov added that Russia did not rule out its participation in a potential UN peacekeeping mission to Syria. “Such a mandate would require very careful consideration as we have already witnessed the situation in Libya. When the approved mandate was later interpreted by our Western partners in their own way and in fact by their activity, it went beyond this mandate,” Gatilov said. During consultations with Israeli partners, the Russian deputy foreign minister discussed issues related to cooperation in the UN and the issues of the reform process in the UN.

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