France urges UN to back Syria plan
France will propose making United Nations envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan for Syria obligatory by invoking the UN's Chapter 7 provision, foreign minister Laurent Fabius said today, describing the conflict there as a "civil war".
Mr Fabius said he hoped Russia would agree to using Chapter 7, a measure which can authorise the use of force, and he said that a no-fly zone was another option under discussion.
"We propose making the implementation of the Annan plan compulsory," he told a news conference. "We need to pass to the next speed at the Security Council and place the Annan plan under Chapter 7 - that is to say make it compulsory under pain of very heavy sanctions."
France would propose toughening sanctions on Syria at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers, he said.
He said the international community would prepare a list of second-ranking military officials who would be pursued by international justice, alongside President Bashar al-Assad and his immediate entourage.
"They must understand that the only future is in resisting oppression. The time for taking a decision has arrived. They have to jump ship," Mr Fabius said.
About 2,000 Syrians fleeing violence in their homeland have crossed into Turkey in the past 48 hours, a significant increase in the number of Syrian refugees now taking shelter in Turkey, the foreign ministry said today.
Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said the latest wave of arrivals had brought the total number of Syrian refugees in Turkey to about 29,500, the highest taking shelter in Turkey at one time since the start of the uprising some 15 months ago.
Among the 2,000 new refugees were 43 wounded people who have been hospitalised in Turkey, Mr Unal said.Turkey has given shelter to more than 50,000 Syrians since March 2011 but thousands have since returned to their homes in Syria.
Earlier, the US said it was concerned that Russia may be sending Syria attack helicopters and views Russian claims that its arms transfers to Syria are unrelated to the conflict there as "patently untrue," US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said.
The comments came as the Pentagon found itself on the defensive for doing business with Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, given concerns in Congress about the firm's role in arming the Syrian regime.
Washington says it is concerned that Russia may be supplying Syria with attack helicopters.
Ms Clinton said this would "escalate the conflict quite dramatically".
She said today Russia would put at risk what it sees as its vital interests in the Middle East if it did not move forward more constructively on Syria.
"Russia says it wants peace and stability restored. It says it has no particular love lost for Assad and it also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep. They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now," Ms Clinton told reporters at a news conference.