x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Russian minister says draft UN resolution will push Syria on path to civil war

The UN draft resolution on Syria calls for President Bashar Al Assad to hand power to his deputy and insists there will be no use of foreign forces in the country.

MOSCOW // A top Russian diplomat has assailed a Western-Arab League draft UN resolution on Syria as pushing the country on the "path to civil war".

"The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria does not lead to a search for compromise," Gennady Gatilov, the deputy foreign minister, wrote on Twitter. "Pushing this resolution is a path to civil war."

Mr Gatilov also criticised the draft resolution in an interview with the Interfax news agency as "leaving a window of opportunity for intervention in Syrian affairs".

Th draft resolution on Syria calls for President Bashar Al Assad to hand power to his deputy and insists there will be no use of foreign forces in the country.

The draft text, seen by the Associated Press, calls on Mr Al Assad's regime to immediately put "an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression."

It calls on Mr Al Assad to delegate his "full authority to his deputy" to allow a national unity government to lead transition to a democratic system.

The text, the drafting of which has been led by Morocco, insists it does not compel "states to resort to the use of force, or the threat of force".

Meanwhile, Syria's troops crushed pockets of resistance in Damascus' outskirts as they advanced into the capital's suburbs briefly held by rebel forces.

Government forces regained control of most of the eastern suburbs after dissident soldiers captured the territory last week. Soldiers moved early into the two remaining towns still in rebel hands, activists said.

"Intense shooting was heard in Zamalka and Arbeen as the tanks advanced," the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, citing its network of sources on the ground. Regime forces made sweeping arrests in the nearby town of Rankous, activists said.

The death toll from yesterday's offensive rose to 100 people, making it one among the bloodiest days since the uprising began in March, according to the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, an umbrella group of activists.