UN draft drops Syria sanctions


Britain, France, Germany and Portugal yesterday circulated a new draft UN resolution condemning Syria that drops previous calls for immediate sanctions against Damascus.

The scaled-back resolution, which is aimed at breaking a deadlock on the UN security council, includes the threat of future sanctions if the government of president Bashar al-Assad does not halt military operations against civilians.

The resolution, if passed, would have the 15-member council voice "grave concern" at the situation in Syria and demand "an immediate end to all violence."

If Damascus fails to heed the council's demands, the draft resolution, which was obtained by Reuters, says the security council would "adopt targeted measures, including sanctions."

Last month, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal circulated a draft resolution that called for sanctions against Dr Assad, influential members of his family and close associates. They said at the time that they wanted a vote as soon as possible, but that vote never came.

Veto-wielding council members Russia and China, as well as Brazil, India and South Africa, opposed the previous European and US draft sanctions resolution.

Western diplomats said that the new resolution would hopefully be more palatable to those five nations. They added that the new resolution was still quite strong, even though it does not include any punitive measures.

"We want to send a strong and unified message to ensure that the Assad regime does not remain deaf to the demands of the international community," a European diplomat said.

Another diplomat said the Europeans hoped to be able to get the council to approve the new draft resolution very soon, possibly within the next 24 hours.