Western powers, Arab League push for urgent UN action on Syria

Western powers and the Arab League are today urging the United Nations Security Council in New York to pass a tough resolution on Syria – saying action on violence in the country is "long overdue," Agence France Presse reported.

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The resolution, drafted by the Arab League, calls for the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to hand power to a deputy, who would form a government of national unity.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi will be asking all permanent members of the Security Council to take support the plan – which Russia has already promised to veto, the BBC reported.

The EU President Herman Van Rompuy said the Syrian government was guilty of violent repression, and called for "urgent action" on the issue.

Syrian state television denounced the latest calls for action by the EU and US as "aggressive" and "scandalous".

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said she would travel to New York and join the foreign ministers of France and Britain, Alain Juppé and William Hague, in lobbying Russia:

"The Security Council must act and make clear to the Syrian regime that the world community views its actions as a threat to peace and security. The violence must end, so that a new period of democratic transition can begin."

However Russia has argued that the text goes too far. Moscow had been pushing for talks between the Syrian government and the opposition, but the offer was reportedly rejected by the opposition.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency that the current draft "certainly cannot be supported by us."

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In reports of fresh violence coming in this morning, activists said at least 100 people were killed in Syria yesterday, mostly civilians, AFP reported.

This comes a day after 80 people were reported to have died in some of the most intense clashes since the unrest began 10 months ago.

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