Violence in Syria Escalates; UN Security Council Resolution Vetoed
February 10, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
On February 10, two car bombings killed 25 people and injured another 175 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the New York Times reported. One blast occurred near the military intelligence directorate and the other targeted police headquarters. Although protestors have demonstrated peacefully in Aleppo, the city has not been a major site for conflict. Captain Ammar al-Wawi of the Free Syria Army (FSA), the armed opposition movement against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, “denied involvement in the latest explosions,” and suggested that the attack was orchestrated by the government: “This regime is playing a well-known game, seeking to distract the world’s attention from the massacres in Homs.”
Homs, in central Syria, has been the focus of clashes between the government and FSA and is sealed off by the Syrian military. The New York Times described images captured of the city as “hellish” and “devoid of people but plagued by random eruptions of fiery, black smoke.” The violence has disrupted transportation of food and medical supplies. Doctors Without Borders told The New York Times that the government was attempting to deny medical treatment to the FSA, and the World Health Organization released a statement confirming the “disruption of regular health services due to lack of security, limited access.” The state news service focused on violence from the opposition, stating that “armed terrorist groups” had taken to the streets, “detonating a number of explosive devices.”
Human rights violations in Syria have escalated since demonstrations against the government began 11 months ago, leaving more than 5000 killed as of December 12, 2011, Reuters reported. The United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville spoke out against the actions of the Syrian government: “We believe, and we’ve said it and we’ll keep repeating it, that the case of Syria belongs in the International Criminal Court (ICC). This would give a very, very strong message to those running the show.” In November 2011, the UN Commission for Human Rights accused Syrian military and security forces of “committ[ing] crimes against humanity,” Reuters reported.
The United States (US) condemned the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad as it closed its embassy on February 6. US Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland released a written statement expressing concern for embassy personnel safety and urged “the international community to act without delay to support the Arab League’s transition plan before the regime’s escalating violence puts a political solution out of reach and further jeopardizes regional peace and security.” In a statement from the White House, US President Barack Obama called for an end to the violence: “Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately.” So far, five European countries and six Arab Gulf states have removed their ambassadors from posts in Syria.
On February 4, Russia and China vetoed a resolution by the UN Security Council to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, the New York Times reported. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rebuked the decision, and stated that “to block this resolution is to bear responsibility for the horrors that are occurring on the ground in Syria.” The proposed resolution followed an attack in Homs that left more than 200 people dead. The Associated Press via the Huffington Post reported that Russia has since “blamed both Assad’s regime and opposition forces for instigating the violence that has killed thousands of people since March,’ and has asked for talks to begin between the government and opposition. Although the Russian government has insisted that dialogue is necessary, it has not advocated Assad’s removal from power.
For previous news on Syria, please see:
Syrian Troops Clash with Rebels
Associated Press – Syria President Bashar Assad Wants Vice President to Hold Talks with Opposition, Russian Envoy Says
New York Times – Blasts Rock Aleppo as Dozens More are Reported Killed in Syria
Reuters – Syrian Officials Should Be Sent to ICC: UN Human Rights Office
United States Department of State – Suspending Embassy Operations in Syria
The White House – Statement by the President on Syria