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Syria troops push back rebels as UN fight looms

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 08:51

Beirut: Syrian troops crushed pockets of rebel
soldiers on the outskirts of Damascus as Western diplomats took up a UN draft resolution demanding President Bashar Assad halt the violence and yield power.

The UN Security Council met yesterday to discuss the
draft, backed by Western and Arab diplomats. But Russia, one
of Assad`s strongest backers, has signaled it would veto
action against Damascus.

"The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria
does not lead to a search for compromise," Russia`s Deputy
Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote yesterday on Twitter. "Pushing this resolution is a path to civil war."
Russia has stood by Assad as he tries to crush an uprising
that began nearly 11 months ago. In October, Moscow vetoed the
first Security Council attempt to condemn Syria`s crackdown
and has shown little sign of budging in its opposition.

Moscow`s stance is motivated in part by its strategic and
defense ties, including weapons sales, with Syria. Russia also
rejects what it sees as a world order dominated by the US.

The fallout from the conflict in Libya is a factor, as
well. Russia fears the new measure could open the door to
eventual military intervention, the way an Arab-backed UN
resolution led to NATO airstrikes in Libya.

The diplomatic showdown came as Syrian government forces
took back control of the eastern suburbs of the capital,
Damascus, after rebel soldiers briefly captured the area in a
startling advance last week.


First Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 08:51
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