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U.N. Security Councils condemns Syria's crackdown on demonstrators

The U.N. Security Council condemned the violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Syria on Wednesday as authorities intensified the assault on a city that symbolizes resistance to President Bashar Assad's autocratic rule.

The Security Council, which has been deadlocked over Syria for the last three months, expressed "grave concern at the deteriorating situation," and called on authorities "to fully respect human rights and to comply with their obligations under applicable international law."

"Those responsible for the violence should be held accountable," the council said.

The council adopted a "presidential" statement to avoid having to call a formal vote on a resolution. While weaker than a resolution, a presidential statement still becomes part of the Security Council's record.

Rising international outrage had no immediate effect on the ground, where security forces moved tanks into the heart of the rebellious city of Hama, cutting off telephone, Internet and at least some electricity and water lines to the city. Witnesses and activists reached by satellite telephone described scenes of chaos as tanks took positions in the city center. The assault began Sunday.

In 1982, Assad's father and predecessor, Hafez Assad, killed up to 30,000 people and flattened huge sections of the city to quash a similar uprising.

The younger Assad's willingness to employ the same methods suggests that he, his powerful brother and close members of his ruling Alawite minority, a small Shiite sect, view the uprising as a threat that must be crushed regardless of the human or political costs.

Libya allying with Islamist rebels?

After six months battling a rebellion that his family portrayed as an Islamist conspiracy, Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, said Wednesday that he was reversing course to forge a secret alliance with radical Islamist elements among the Libyan rebels to drive out their more liberal-minded confederates. The leading Islamist whom the younger Gadhafi identified as his main counterpart in the talks, Ali Sallabi, acknowledged their conversations but dismissed any suggestion of an alliance, the New York Times reported. He said the Libyan Islamists supported the rebel leaders' calls for a pluralistic democracy without the Gadhafis.

U.N. Security Councils condemns Syria's crackdown on demonstrators 08/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 11:19pm]
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