Russia has said it will veto any new Western-backed UN resolution against Syria, pouring cold water on plans to up pressure on the regime. But recent defections betray cracks in the Syrian government according to some.
Russia said on Thursday that it would staunchly oppose a potential Western-backed and militarily enforceable resolution on Syria that the UN Security Council was due to consider voting on later in the day.
"If they decide this (a vote on Thursday) - knowing that for us the text is unacceptable - then we will not allow it to pass," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Interfax news agency.
But Gatilov expressed his doubt that a vote would take place as soon as Thursday.
"The process of consultations is only just starting and should take some time," he said.
“As a whole, their resolution is unbalanced and foresees that obligations should only be fulfilled by the Syrian government. Practically nothing is said about the obligations of the opposition," he added.
Russia and Britain have put forward rival texts for a fresh Security Council resolution that deals with questions relating to the UN's observer mission in Syria, whose mandate is due to expire on July 20 and, more generally, how to end the conflict.
The British draft threatens President Bashar Assad's regime with sanctions unless it withdraws troops from urban centers in the next 10 days. Although the sanctions are non-military, the resolution would come under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Chapter VII allows the Security Council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and take military action to "restore international peace and security.”
Defections show cracks in Assad regime
Meanwhile, the first Syrian ambassador to desert the Assad regime, Nawaf al-Fares, on Thursday implored the country's army to “turn [their] guns on the criminals” within the government. Fares was the Syrian ambassador to Iraq and his defection closely follows that of Manaf Tlas, a brigadier general and childhood friend of the president.
The White House commented on al-Fares' defection on Thursday, stating that it betrayed the fact that desperation is growing within Assad's government.
"Those around him, both in his inner circle and more broadly in the military and governmental leadership are beginning to assess Assad's chances of remaining in power ... and making the choice that they will abandon him in favor of the Syrian people," White House spokesman Jay Carney said to reporters.
sej/ (Reuters, AFP)