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U.N. resolution on Syria vetoed

DAMASCUS, Syria, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Russia and China Tuesday vetoed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Syria's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The proposed resolution included a call for an immediate end to alleged human rights abuses by the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, the United Nations said in a release.

In Syria, activists said four people were killed Tuesday in clashes between government security forces and military defectors in Talbiseh, near Homs, Voice of America reported. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, said at least one those killed was a civilian.

The fighting Tuesday followed days of security operations in Rastan, during which activists say government forces arrested as many as 3,000 people to track down dissident soldiers.

It's estimated 2,700 people have died in anti-government protests in Syria since mid-March.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, France, Gabon, Germany, Nigeria, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States voted in favor of the draft Security Council resolution. Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa abstained.

A veto by any one of the council's five permanent members -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- is enough to block any resolution.

The proposed wording condemned "the continued grave and systematic human rights violations and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities." It called for all sides to reject violence and extremism and for the creation of "an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism, and aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria's population."

After the veto, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his country does not support Assad's regime but that the draft resolution was not the way to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis. He said most Syrians desire a gradual political change, not an abrupt overthrow of the current government, and the resolution failed to adequately factor in the impact of extremists organizations in the country.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said his country was greatly concerned about the violence in Syria but the resolution would only complicate matters. He said the threat of sanctions would not resolve the conflict in Syria.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud said he was disappointed in the vote, which he said came after repeated attempts by the co-sponsors to work out acceptable wording.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the countries that did not back the resolution would have to answer to the Syrian people. She said it was a "ruse" to suggest passing the resolution would lead to military intervention in Syria.

Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari of Syria said the resolution revealed some Western countries' desire to undermine his country's authorities.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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