France denounces 'unprecedented massacre' in Syria

21st December 2011, Comments 0 comments

France denounced Wednesday what it said was the "unprecedented massacre" of 120 people by Syrian forces and urged Russia to accelerate talks for a UN Security Council resolution on the crisis.

At his regular briefing, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said: "Everything must be put in motion to end this murderous spiral into which Bashar al-Assad is dragging his people, deeper each day."

"A massacre on an unprecedented scale took place in Syria on Tuesday, causing more than 120 deaths," he said, apparently throwing France's weight behind reports from Syrian opposition and rights groups of a mass killing.

"We call on Russia to accelerate the rhythm of negotiations at the Security Council on its draft resolution," he added.

Russia has proposed a Security Council motion that would denounce violence from both sides in the Syrian conflict: Assad's security forces and opposition pro-democracy protesters, most of whom are unarmed.

France has called this "unacceptable", seeking instead a resolution that would directly pin the blame for the violence on the regime and threaten strong international sanctions on Damascus.

Valero admitted that talks on this issue "had not advanced very far" and added: "We need the Russians, who have moved on this, to go forward."

France supports an Arab League plan to end the violence, which the United Nations believes has left 5,000 people dead in nine months. This would see a ceasefire, the release of political prisoners and foreign observers.

On Wednesday, the opposition Syrian National Council said that more than 200 people had been killed in two days alone, including 111 civilians in the northwestern town of Kafruwed on Tuesday.

If confirmed, this would make it one of the bloodiest weeks of the conflict so far, despite increasing international pressure on Assad.

© 2011 AFP

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