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UN nations condemn Syria, demand political transition

03-08-2012
17:00
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Syrian troops stormed Damascus's southern district of Tadamon with dozens of tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers, on Friday, in an attempt to win back control of the last rebel stronghold in the capital, a witness and activists said.   

Activists said most of the district was under the control of government forces by early evening.

Earlier on Friday, mortars rained down on a crowded marketplace in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital, killing 21 people as regime forces and rebels clashed on the southern outskirts of Damascus, activists said.           

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported the deaths, said the shells hit Yarmouk camp Thursday as shoppers were buying food for the evening meal. The activists would not speculate on who was firing.     

The state news agency blamed the bombardment on "terrorist mercenaries"  a term the government uses for rebel fighters  and said they had been chased away by security forces.

Meanwhile, tens of civilians were killed alongside Syrian opposition fighters in the Arbeen neighborhood, Hama in a military operation of a clandestine nature.

On another note, clashes erupted in the Tadamon neighborhood in Damascus while Aleppo’s Salaheddine neighborhood was subject to shelling.

Also on Friday, Russia's Defense Ministry denied that it plans to send naval vessels to the Syrian port of Tartus, the state-owned RIA news agency said.      

It dismissed reports, attributed by Russian news agencies to a source in the general staff, that Moscow was sending three large landing ships with marines aboard.
     
In a related context, the Turkish Anatolia news agency reported that the Turkish army conducted military exercises along its border with Syria. Heavy tanks, armored personnel carriers and land-to-air missile launchers participated in the drills held in the Öncüpınar border area in the southeastern province of Kilis.

On another note, Syria’s oil minister stressed that Russia agrees to ship oil to Syria at a time when a Syrian official said that Damascus is ready to export oil in exchange for gasoline and diesel.


U.N. General Assembly:


The U.N. General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly voted to condemn the Syrian government and demanded a political transition in Syria, where 17 months of fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters.    

The 193-nation assembly approved the Saudi-drafted non-binding resolution, which expressed "grave concern" at the escalation of violence in Syria, with 133 votes in favor, 12 against and 31 abstentions.    

The resolution also had the assembly "deploring the failure of the Security Council to agree on measures to ensure the compliance of Syrian authorities with its decisions."
         
The Assembly was overshadowed by the resignation of former U.N. chief Kofi Annan on Thursday as the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria after his peace proposals failed.
 
Russia and China opposed the draft, as expected. Both countries have cast a double-veto in the Security Council three times to kill resolutions that could have opened the door to sanctions on Syria, or even military intervention.
 
The permanent representative of France at the UN Gerard Araud Thursday that the mission of international observers in Syria is likely to come to an end  by August 19.


Positions:      

In international positions, the Free Syrian Army condemned the “field execution” held by opposition fighters against pro-regime soldiers in Aleppo. The FSA disowned the crime and considered it as “an unacceptable and outlawed individual act”.    

In this regard, British Foreign Minister William Hague said that the U.K. will step up its support to the Syrian opposition by providing it with “non-lethal equipment”. 

Russia said on Friday it was "extremely worried" by violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo and called for an immediate halt to the bloodshed.    

A Foreign Ministry statement also said deliveries of weapons from abroad and other support for rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad contradicted international attempts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

 
Stances on Annan’s resignation:

Meanwhile, reactions on the resignation of international envoy Kofi Annan kept emerging as Iran announced that this resignation was due to the “interference” of some countries in Syria’s affairs. As for Russia, it called for finding a successor to Annan as soon as possible.  

 
REUTERS/AP/LBCI
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