The recent UN General Assembly resolution on Syria has triggered a wave of indignation in Syria. A gas pipeline was blown up in Homs followed by artillery shelling of the city which is partially controlled by rebel forces.
Pipelines have been blown up here on a regular basis since the very beginning of Syria's unrest. The most recent incident of this kind which took place shortly after a resolution calling for an end to the violence had been adopted by the UN General Assembly, caused a big fire in Homs.
A bombing of an oil pipeline on February 15th was followed by an assault by government troops’ on Hama and a Damascus suburb. This time, the Syrian army launched an assault on Homs right after the explosion. Western reports say that the shelling of Homs became the biggest attack over the past two weeks with government forces using armored vehicles, mortars and other heavy weapons. Several hundred people have been killed in fire exchanges since the beginning of the month. According to opposition leader Hadi Abdullah, the government’s crackdown on dissent has reached unprecedented proportions. Government representatives say they have to use necessary and appropriate force to retaliate against rebel attacks.
The UN General Assembly condemned the violence which took place in Syria on February 16th. In its resolution, it has put the blame for civilian deaths on President Bashar al-Assad’s troops. Russian representative Vitaly Churkin had this to say.
"Russia proposed a number of reasonable amendments urging all peace-seeking forces to break away from armed groups and calling on armed groups to stop their attacks on residential areas and government offices. At the same time, it also urged government troops to stop their shelling of populated areas and withdraw. Since these proposals were ignored, Russia had no other choice but vote against the resolution."
The UN General Assembly has backed the Arab League’s plea that President Bashar al-Assad must resign. Russia, however, is strongly opposed to this, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"The world is faced with a simple choice: if it continues to insist on the departure of President Bashar al-Assad as a pre-condition for peace talks, Syria will plunge into a large-scale civil war with unpredictable consequences. During my visit to Damascus I realised that if we wanted to put an end to violence we would have to act without any preconditions. We must form a united front demanding that all warring factions in Syria should cease fire and start talks."
Russia’s former Ambassador to Libya Alexei Podtserob believes that chances of getting the two parties to sit down at the negotiating table are still there.
"There is still a chance of getting the Syrian parties to enter talks but this would require exerting pressure on both sides. Russia has done its share of work. While on a visit to Damascus, Lavrov and Fradkov suggested holding a meeting in Moscow. President Bashar al-Assad agreed. Now, it’s necessary to put pressure on the opposition, first of all on the opposition groups based abroad. But western countries won’t do that. However, opposition forces can only be forced into any talks. Opposition leaders are hoping that sooner or later, foreign troops will enter the country and that NATO will help propel the former to power, which is what's happened in Libya."
As reports of yet another flare-up of violence came in on Friday, Moscow confirmed its readiness to search for a solution to the Syrian crisis alongside other members of the United Nations.