The brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protestors by Syrian military, intelligence, and security forces — which has reportedly killed more than 2200 — continued this week despite promises by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt military operations. The latest crackdown occurred in Homs on Tuesday, when Syrian security forces attacked protestors immediately after a UN delegation drove through the city. Many of the demonstrators had flocked out to the UN convoy as it passed, with one protestor reportedly telling the delegates “we are protected now because you are here.”
The UN Human Rights Council voted yesterday to launch an official investigation into Tuesday’s crackdown. Along with calling for an international inquiry, the resolution condemned the human rights abuses of the Syrian government and called for “a Syrian led political process and for an inclusive, credible and genuine national dialogue conducted in an environment without fear and intimidation and with the aim of addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian population.” Thirty three countries voted in favor of the resolution, 9 abstained, and four voted against: China, Cuba, Ecuador, and Russia.
The US, UK, France, Germany, and Portugal have been circulating a draft UN resolution, obtained by Reuters, which would call for sanctions against Syria’s President and 22 of his supporters. The drafters hope the resolution would be voted on in the United Nations Security Council as soon as possible. If passed, it would call for the freezing of financial assets owned by President Assad and key supporters, and improse sanctions on the Syrian intelligence agency and three companies with close ties to the government.
Other diplomats are also attempting to put pressure on the Syrian regime. The US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, made a surprise visit to the city of Jassem, a hotbed of pro-democracy protestors. His trip was a sign of US support for the opposition and a slap in the face to the Syrian government, which has attempted to restrict his movements outside of the capital city of Damascus. Rather than asking for official permission to visit Jassem, Ambassador Ford only informed the Syrian Foreign Ministry after his four hour trip was completed. The move comes only days after President Obama called on the Syrian President to step down, with the UK, France, and Germany quickly echoing the demand. While the West’s demands are unlikely to have much impact on Assad, it is another strong statement of support for Syrian opposition groups.