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Syria clashes: UN divided on appeal for access to civilians trapped in Homs

Last Updated: Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 10:58

Zee Media Bureau

United Nations: As the clashes between Syrian rebels and pro-government forces continue in Homs, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reportedly remains divided over Syrian government allowing access to the trapped 2,500 civilians in the city.

Russia, an ally of Bashar al-Assad`s government, continues to oppose any interference in the Syria, as per a news agency news report.

Austria and Luxembourg circulated a draft press statement earlier this week expressing "grave concern" at the plight of the trapped civilians and calling for Syria to allow "immediate, safe and unhindered access" to Homs for UN and other humanitarian workers so they could assist civilians in need, especially those requiring medical treatment.

Russia`s UN Mission said it proposed an alternative statement which called for immediate access to Homs as well as the predominantly Shiite government-controlled towns of Nubul and Zahra, which the opposition fighters are seeking to take.

UN diplomats said supporters of the original statement insisted on focusing on Homs, a strategic central city of about 1 million located on the road between the capital Damascus and regime strongholds on the Mediterranean coast, and refused to equate the scale of the attack there with fighting in the two small villages.

Russia rejected compromise language proposed by the original statement`s supporters which called for immediate access "to reach civilians in Homs and all areas of ongoing hostilities," the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were private.

The United States and its European allies have proposed three Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the violence, but all three have been vetoed by Russia and China, which also supports the Syrian government.

The initial draft statement on Homs is similar to a press statement approved by the council on June 7 urging Syria to immediately allow U.N. and other humanitarian groups into the strategic town of Qusair to provide aid to civilians who desperately needed food and medical care.

Diplomats said Russia held up approval of that statement until rebel fighters were routed from Qusair by government forces.

(With Agency Inputs)

First Published: Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 10:58

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