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U.N. Council urged to act on Syria as Assad

01 February 2012, 13:54

Amman - Arab and Western states urged the U.N. Security Council to act swiftly on a resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside as his forces reasserted control of Damascus suburbs on Tuesday after beating back rebels at the gates of the capital.

The comments appeared designed to confront Russia over its reluctance to support the resolution and condemn Assad's government for its violent suppression of the protests. Moscow's U.N. envoy, however, said consensus was necessary and possible.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby asked the council for "rapid and decisive action" on a resolution to endorse the league's demand that Assad delegate powers to his deputy and defuse the 10-month uprising against his family's dynastic rule.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim warned the 15-nation body that Syria's "killing machine is still at work."

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari hit back, telling the council Arab League leaders had put a negative spin on a report by the League's monitors in Syria.

He sparred verbally with Sheikh Hamad, whose country has harshly criticized Syria and last year backed Western action in Libya that helped rebels take power. "Is Qatar a member of NATO or the Arab League?" Ja'afari asked with heavy sarcasm.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly backed the Arab League call for rapid Security Council action and warned that the violence was pushing Syria to the brink of civil war.


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