Saudis push new plan for Syria peace at UN as violence continues (VIDEO)

GlobalPost

Saudi Arabia is reportedly circulating a draft resolution on Syria to be put before the UN General Assembly similar to that which Russia and China vetoed in the Security Council, triggering anger among Western powers.

There is no power of veto at the General Assembly, although its resolutions have no legal force, unlike those of the Security Council.

The diplomatic maneuvers received added urgency as violence in Syria continued unabated:

  • Unidentified gunmen assassinated Syrian army Brig. Gen. Issa al-Kholi in Damascus today in the first such killing since the 11-month uprising began, according to The Associated Press, which cited the state-run SANA news agency. The AP speculated that such an attack could mean that opposition forces were making greater inroads in the "tightly controlled" Syrian capital.
  • Citing opposition sources, CNN reported that unrest had also flared in suburban Damascus and southern Syria, where five men were killed by tank fire in Daraa province, the birthplace of the uprising. The news network also said violence had occurred among pro and anti-regime protesters in neighboring Lebanon.

The Saudi resolution would call for an end to violence in Syria and for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, but add a new element — a that a UN special envoy be appointed, the BBC reported.

The General Assembly is scheduled to discuss Syria on Monday, according to the BBC, with the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expected to address the gathering.

Meanwhile, in Syria the Assad regime's crackdown on protesters was continuing throughout the country, according to press reports.

(More from GlobalPost: Syria's economy begins to break down)

The BBC cited opposition activists as saying that at least 52 people were killed across the country by security forces on Friday, "including 16 in Homs and 15 in suburbs of Damascus."

And tanks and artillery continued to bombard parts of the city, an epicenter of anti-government protests, with mortar fire reported in the Baba Amr district on Saturday morning.

Army snipers had been deployed on rooftops and troops opened fire as worshippers left a mosque in Homs after Friday prayers, Reuters reported.

In the normally sedate commercial hub of Aleppo, meantime, a twin car bombing outside a base used by security forces killed 28 people and wounded 235, according to state television.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombings, Reuters reported, 

Euronews reported cited rebels as saying that more than 450 people had died so far in a week-long onslaught by Assad's security forces, much of it aimed at Homs. 

Saudi Arabia's draft resolution, meantime, lays responsibility for the violence squarely on the Syrian authorities, strongly condemning them for "continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms," according to the BBC.

While not specifically mentioning the International Criminal Court, the draft "urges accountability for those guilty of human rights violations."

It also "fully supports" the Arab League peace plan published last month, which called on Assad to hand over power to his vice-president and allow for the formation of a national unity government.

"There is also a request for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special envoy to promote a peaceful solution to the crisis — a proposal that Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi made earlier this week."

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