Russian, Chinese veto provokes Syrian violence: opposition

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By vetoing a draft UN resolution against Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime, Russia and China risked provoking its opponents to violence, the leader of Syria's newly united opposition said Wednesday.

"Supporting Bashar al-Assad in his militarist and fascist project will not encourage the Syrian people to stick to a peaceful revolution," Burhan Ghalioun, president of the Syrian National Council (SNC), told AFP in Paris.

Asked about the decision of Russia, in particular, to block a European bid to open the way for international action against Assad, Ghalioun said: "They are truly encouraging violence."

On Tuesday, after nearly six months of negotiations, nine of 15 Security Council members voted for text, drawn up by France with Britain, Germany and Portugal, calling for "targeted measures" against Damascus.

It urged action if Syria's President Bashar al-Assad does not halt attacks on demonstrators, which the UN says have left at least 2,700 dead.

As permanent members of the council, Russia and China used their veto to kill the resolution. South Africa, India, Brazil and Lebanon abstained.

"To avoid the slide towards violence, the international community needs to act differently and realise what are the risks and the dangers of this moment in history," Ghalioun said, in an interview with AFP at his home.

"I think the international community has not yet lived up to its responsibilities," the Paris-based academic said.

On Sunday, Ghalioun had met other Syrian opposition figures in Istanbul and announced that the SNC would now unite all the major known factions opposing Assad's rule, both inside and outside Syria.

© 2011 AFP

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