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Syrian opposition group warns: If the UN won't act, 'we have other options'

The opposition Syrian National Council issued an ultimatum of its own as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on extending the mandate of the UN's cease-fire monitors in Syria.

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The Syrian delegation members say they relayed the same message to the Russian officials they met in New York this week and to those, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, they met with in Moscow last week: a failure to include “enforcement measures” in a Syria resolution would send a message of a weak UN unable to manage international security crises.

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Another Russian veto of a Syria resolution would “send the wrong message back to both the regime and the Syrian people,” Kodmani said they told their Russian interlocutors. The Assad regime would hear that it is “free to continue the violence, continue the massacres,” she said, while the Syrian people would hear the international community saying, “We cannot do anything for you, you will have to fight [this] out.”

On Monday Mr. Lavrov said in Moscow that the West’s pressure for a Chapter 7 resolution – which Russia fears would lead to foreign intervention in Syria of the type that occurred in Libya – is “a kind of blackmail” and he gave every suggestion that Russia would not alter its stance.

But after Annan, a former UN secretary-general, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday in Moscow, Mr. Lavrov softened his words and suggested a compromise might yet be found between the two positions on the council. “Russia is ready to work” with its council counterparts, Lavrov said.

At the New York press conference, Kodmani was not specific about the “alternative scenarios” the Syrian opposition would pursue in the absence of forceful Security Council action.

But the implications from her and from background comments made by other SNC officials with her were clear: Syria’s opposition would have no choice but to turn directly to regional supporters who would see the council’s inaction as a green light to more robust arming and protective measures for the Syrian civilian population.

Kodmani said the SNC would also like any resolution to demand unimpeded access across Syria for international humanitarian aid – Syrian authorities have been blocking aid and denying visas to aid workers – and to provide for referring the regime’s “criminals” who have been killing Syrian civilians to the International Criminal Court.

This last demand is unlikely to have traction at this point under any scenario, but it does suggest where the opposition has its sights set as it moves forward.

IN PICTURES: Conflict in Syria


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