Russia and China veto resolution on Syria at UN


Paul Wood, and cameraman Fred Scott, were smuggled into Homs

An Arab and Western-backed resolution condemning the violent crackdown in Syria has been vetoed at the UN Security Council by Russia and China.

They rejected the draft as "unbalanced" hours after activists accused troops of killing at least 55 people at Homs.

Western countries said the move would encourage Syria's government to continue its violent clampdown.

A BBC correspondent who entered Homs with rebels after the vote says gun and shell fire can be heard in the city.

'Craven tyrant'

The draft resolution, supported by all 13 other members of the Security Council, had adopted an Arab League call for a "Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system".

Russia said it singled out the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and did not contain measures against armed opposition groups.

At the scene

As we came into the city this afternoon we heard a lot of heavy machine-gun fire and there were a lot of unexplained explosions.

We had to come in using a very elaborate route, escorted by activists who were bringing medical supplies and fresh blood donated a few hours earlier in the villages around Homs.

There is some dispute over the number of people killed here but they are still finding bodies and we expect more funerals on Sunday.

What does seem to have happened is that the Free Syrian Army have been pushed out of the suburb of Khalidiya, which bore the brunt of what the activists say was a heavy attack by the government side.

The rebel fighters are now squeezed into one very small part of Homs, from where I'm speaking, and which expects to be assaulted by Syrian government forces next.

Proposed Russian amendments to the text were described as "unacceptable" by the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.

Ms Rice condemned the vetoes as "shameful". It showed, she said, how Russia and China aimed to "sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant".

"Any further bloodshed that flows will be on their hands," Ms Rice added.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Russian and Chinese approach "lets the Syrian people down, and will only encourage President Assad's brutal regime to increase the killing".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country would not give up seeking a solution. "The Syrian tragedy must stop," he said.

Mohammed Loulichki, Morocco's ambassador to the UN and the sole Arab member of the current council, voiced "great regret and disappointment" that Moscow and Beijing had struck it down.

But Russia's Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, insisted the draft resolution had lacked balance.

"Some influential members of the international community unfortunately... have been undermining the opportunity for political settlement, calling for a regime change, pushing the oppositionists to power," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to have talks with Mr Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.

Beijing's ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong, said the resolution would have been counter-productive.

US Ambassador Susan Rice: "For months this council has been held hostage by a couple of members"

"China maintains that, under the current circumstances, to put undue emphasis on pressuring the Syrian government... or impose any solution will not help resolve the Syrian issue," he said.

Pro-Assad residents in the Syrian capital Damascus welcomed the Sino-Russian stance.

"I believe there are more important issues for the Security Council to take care of... such as the starvation in Somalia, and Gaza," one told BBC News.

"Isn't there anything else apart from us for the Security Council to deal with?"

Cut off

Early accounts of the casualties in Homs talked of as many as 200 deaths, but one of the main activist groups later revised its confirmed toll down to 55.

Fighting in Homs continued into the evening, the BBC's Paul Woods reports from a rooftop in a suburb of the city.

Our correspondent and his cameraman heard a lot of heavy machine-gun fire and unexplained explosions when they entered the city during the afternoon, travelling with activists who were carrying supplies of fresh blood to treat casualties.

The city appeared to have come under a "pretty relentless" bombardment on Friday, our correspondent adds, and parts of the city which oppose the regime have been cut off.

Ammar, a Homs resident, told the Associated Press news agency: "A few more nights like this one and Homs will be erased from the map."

Homs was one of the first cities to join anti-Assad protests, and became one of the focal points of dissent after government forces fired on crowds in April last year. Many army defectors have sought refuge in the city.

Syria map

State media dismissed the Homs casualty reports as a "hysterical campaign of incitement" by armed gangs designed to influence the UN.

International media outlets are restricted in Syria, making it difficult to verify the claims of either side.

Tunisia moved to sever relations with the Assad government following the Homs violence

Activists have been attacking Syrian embassies around the world in response to the violence in Homs.

Syria has been gripped by nationwide protests against Mr Assad's government for almost a year, in a struggle that has claimed at least 5,400 lives, according to the UN.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    As an ethnic Chinese person, I feel ashamed of the veto by China. But then again I'm just a commoner, the complexity in the game of world politics, is a bit out of reach for my understanding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    When you don't have the weapons, personnel or sophistication to take on a trained army, your chances of success are not real good and the Mysery Man and his lip service did nothing, just like his failed policies....

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    We do not know enough to make an informed choice where there are only questions. We know who is involved but who fired first? What preceded this attack? Is this response balanced? Do they accept prisoners & surrender? From the known Arab Spring the Syrian leadership is bound be shaky & crush uprisings. This matter seems political & an internal dispute. Democracy for who wants via peaceful protest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    @331 I-330

    As long as you and I have been alive, there has been War on this planet. Perhaps it is human nature, perhaps it is destiny - I don't know why people can't live and let live.

    Our ancestors would be shocked by what the world now faces. Collapse of banks, greed and nuclear threat, etc.

    Good night I-330, may all be well with you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    We have heard similar horror stories of group murders and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Sudan and other african nations but there is never any NATO or UN interest in intervening there, maybe due to lack of oil? -

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.


    "lets be honest, it is their blood not ours..."

    You're right. My ancestors paid my dues for me so I could live in peace. Should we not give the Syrians the chance to do the same?

    "What do you think?"

    Honestly? I think there are some ulterior motives going on but if that means less bloodshed in the long run... You're right this is a perplexing dilemma

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    Hi I-330

    I don't rule out helping others - if/when asked and I wouldn't if I felt more people would die because I stepped in. But I-300, lets be honest, it is their blood not ours - I imagine you, like myself, are in peaceful surroundings not having to pay a price. Right?

    I think back 12-14 months and wonder how this domino effect happened. What is keeping it going?

    What do you think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.


    "But then you would have to ask... infinitely better for whom (in the end)?"

    Better for everyone involved.

    "Supplying weapons for peace is lunacy."

    Peace requires a high price, the usual currency is blood.

    " I really think it is up to the Syrians and others to reach their own way."

    I do too, but I don't rule out helping people find their way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    @627 I-330

    But then you would have to ask... infinitely better for whom (in the end)?

    Perplexing dilemma - I have never understood why any nation has carte blanche interfering with another. Supplying weapons for peace is lunacy. I really think it is up to the Syrians and others to reach their own way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.


    "I think life for all was safer and more stable before the Arab Spring."

    But then you have to ask, is it worth keeping the status quo if there is a chance that things may be infinitly better in the end?

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    Hello ...bornintheUSSR

    To be honest I think someone kicked a hornet's nest beginning with Libya. With atrocities reported taking place in the world, for some reason focus remains in this area. I don't know if I'm right, just a feeling that there is much more to this story. By all accounts given by the Press, I think life for all was safer and more stable before the Arab Spring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    The West in the name of Democracy using Nato out side its role has been changing Regimes who do not beat the drum with them. The Russian and Chinse Veto are self protection because they want to stop the fire that may knock at their doors.This shows the failure of the UN for its turning blind eyes when Nato was bombing Serbia, Lybia ect. May God help the People of Syria

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    It is a sad decision for those innocent and receiving-end populations living in Homs. It was the same scenario for innocent Tamils in northern Sri Lanka when the world stood just watching when they were killed in thousands. The US and UK representatives of UN also were raising hand before to show objection for Palestinian resolution (when people in Gaza were killed in hundreds). So Western Who?

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    To those "disgusted" by China/Russia toether with Mrs Rice:

    1. Please, look back at what happened in Libya. Are you not disgusted by massive casualties, destruction and suffering caused by the what you supported? Are you sure this was the best course of actions?
    2. Whagt is wrong with the russian draft of the resolution? Why not support it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    I sometimes feel there won't be peace in this area of the world and perhaps the democracy we have won't work for them. Tribal differences, religious differences and a culture which seems so out of touch with ours - maybe this is why they have dictators. Removing a dictator only to replace with another and kept strong by a strong military. Volatile country & people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    Given the human rights records of Russia and China in particular, it is little wonder that they oppose any UN resolution against Syria. Their veto of the latest resolution is nothing short of disgusting. It shows that China still has a Tienamin Square mentality where they want to crush all opposition to the government, no matter how unfair and unjust that is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    Read news coming from the "liberated" Libya:
    Libyan diplomat Omar Brebesh dies 'under torture'
    "Photos of Brebesh's body, seen by Human Rights Watch, show welts, cuts and the apparent removal of toenails, indicating that he was tortured prior to death"
    Want similar regime in Syria? Is it better than Assads? Was it worth 60,000+ killed? Will regime change in Syriat be worth civilian casualties?

  • rate this

    Comment number 619.


    "Why only those five countries can make the most important decision in the world."

    Think now, which 5 countries are they and when was the UN founded that will give you your answer.

    "Why china and russia always against all the others will?"

    To be honest, China rarely use their powers of veto. Though Russia does use it a lot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    Interesting that the US that vetoes any criticism of Israel would be so surprised of the vetoes from others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    Why always people has to suffer for those two countries.I hate that veto system. Why only those five countries can make the most important decision in the world. And why not all the others? Are all the others stupid or animals? Why why why? Why china and russia always against all the others will? It is time to stop using veto system.


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