The U.S. State Department late Monday voiced concern that escalating violence in Syria could spill over in the region, as the Pentagon said the conflict represented a security priority for Washington; while China reiterated its rejection of foreign intervention in Syria no matter how good the intentions.
“We all fear the worst-case scenario: this devolving into a conflict that spills widely across the borders that is even further sectarian carnage,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters.
“We are very concerned about that,” he said according to AFP.
Ventrell again condemned the “despicable violence” seen in the village of Tremsa, and said Washington awaited further details from the U.N. mission in Syria about the killings in the central village.
Syria denied its troops carried out a massacre in Tremsa, while activists said hundreds of people were slaughtered there last week by troops and pro-regime militiamen.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the U.S. navy would step up the pace of deploying an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East given the regional tensions, particularly in Syria and Iran.
“It’s no secret that the United States and our partners and our allies in the region face serious challenges, from a variety of sources,” Little said.
“Syria is obviously a top national security priority for the United States but I wouldn’t get into whether or not these requirements as defined by Centcom are attached to the crisis in Syria.”
Syria’s military deployed armored vehicles near central Damascus for the first time on Monday as troops battled rebels around the capital in what activists said could be a turning point in the bloody 16-month uprising.
Russia, meanwhile, slammed as “blackmail” Western pressure to push for a U.N. Security Council resolution against Syria’s regime and said it would be “unrealistic” for its ally President Bashar al-Assad to quit.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is in Moscow for talks with top officials while U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon is due in Beijing on Tuesday, also on a mission to get support for tougher action on Syria.
No pretext for foreign intervention in Syria
Meanwhile, China’s top newspaper said on Tuesday that there can never be a pretext for foreign intervention in Syria no matter how good the intentions, ahead of the U.N. Security Council vote on a Western-backed resolution that threatens sanctions.
The resolution, proposed by Britain, the United States, France and Germany, would extend a U.N. observer mission in Syria for 45 days and Annan’s peace plan under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
Chapter 7 allows the 15-member council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention. U.S. officials have said they are talking about sanctions on Syria, not military intervention.
China and Russia have previously vetoed resolutions designed to pressure President Assad.
While China has yet to explicitly say how it will vote on Wednesday on the new resolution, comments in the Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily suggest it will not be won over, with Beijing nervous about any suggestions of intervention.
“Foreign interference to bring about regime change to forcefully prevent a humanitarian disaster sounds like a fully just and responsible thing to do,” the newspaper said in a commentary, according to Reuters.
“But is it not a humanitarian disaster that more than a decade after regime change that there are attacks and bombings which there are no way to stop?” it added, in an apparent allusion to Iraq.
“Several wars that have happened in this new century prove again and again that ‘promoting democracy’ and ‘humanitarianism’ are just a pretext for large foreign powers to seek private gain,” the People’s Daily commentary said.
China and Russia say they are committed to the peace plan drafted by U.N. envoy Annan which proposes national dialogue.
U.N. peace monitors effectively gave up on their mission last month after just weeks in Syria as it became clear there was no peace to monitor.
The People’'s Daily said Western military backing for Libya’s rebels should be “a warning to us all” about the perils of foreign involvement.
“Do those who eulogize the ‘meritorious statesmen’ at NATO who went to war to end the Qaddafi era think about the tens of thousands of innocent people carried off by the flames of war?” it said.
“There are no international treaties which bestow the power on foreign leaders to get rid of or appoint other national leaders.”
The commentary was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” meaning “Voice of China,” which is often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.