Last Updated: Thu Oct 04, 2012 19:51 pm (KSA) 16:51 pm (GMT)

Russia blocks U.N. draft condemning Syrian Turkey strike

Russian objections to a draft U.N. statement condemning Syria’s deadly shelling of Turkey sent the Security Council back into consultations. (Reuters)
Russian objections to a draft U.N. statement condemning Syria’s deadly shelling of Turkey sent the Security Council back into consultations. (Reuters)

Russian objections to a draft U.N. statement condemning Syria’s deadly shelling of Turkey sent the Security Council back into consultations, diplomats said Thursday.

The draft had been expected to be approved by a “silence procedure” -- the text is considered adopted if no country objects -- but “the Russians broke the silence,” Britain ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters.

He did not give details on the Russian objections.

The draft statement condemns “in the strongest terms” the Syrian strike against Turkey, saying the shootings “constitute a serious threat to international peace and security.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had earlier called on the Security Council to take a “measured approach,” founded on facts, according to AFP.

Moscow, an old ally of Damascus, opposes any military action against the Assad regime and has accused the West of fueling the 18-month conflict by allowing arms to flow to the opposition.

The United States also proposed amendments to "strengthen" the original text, according a Western diplomat.

The original draft, circulated to the 15-nation council on Wednesday, condemned “in the strongest terms” the Syrian army’s shelling of a town in Turkey and demanded an end to violations of Turkish territory.

“This represents a demonstration of the spilling over of the crisis in Syria into neighboring states to an alarming degree,” say both the Russian and the initial draft.

However, the Russians proposed removing the following sentence, which diplomats said was crucial language: “Such violations of international law constitute a serious threat to international peace and security.”

The language removed by Russia, U.N. envoys say, was intended to signal that the Security Council, which is supposed to be the guardian of international peace and security, should remain involved in the matter, according to Reuters.

Some 30,000 people have been killed across Syria, activists say, in a conflict with growing sectarian overtones which threatens to draw in regional Sunni Muslim and Shiite powers.

Council diplomats said they would continue negotiating on the draft statement. U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Susan Rice told reporters before heading into a council meeting on other issues: “Let’s go work on it.”

It was unlikely that the council would do anything more than issue a statement for the time being. The Security Council has been deadlocked on Syria's 18-month-long conflict for more than a year.

Russia and China have vetoed three resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

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