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Russia offers new U.N. resolution on Syria

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:05 PM EST, Thu December 15, 2011
  • NEW: Resolution on Syria "insufficient" but could be improved, German ambassador says
  • More than 5,000 people have been killed in Syria, the U.N. says
  • Official isn't surprised peaceful protest is morphing into violent resistance
  • More than two dozen security forces were killed Thursday, activists say

(CNN) -- Russia's new draft for a Security Council resolution on the Syrian crisis is "insufficient" but could be improved, Germany's U.N. ambassador said Thursday.

Russia's ambassador insisted that the resolution "considerably strengthens" previous drafts "with regard to the interest in violence, with regard to the need to uphold human rights, with regard to expediting reforms."

The resolution would also "give a strong message to the Arab League that we encourage them to continue their efforts, and working together with the government of Syria, and to carry out its plans to deploy the monitoring mission in Syria," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said at the U.N. on Thursday.

The Russian proposal "strongly condemns" violence "coming from all parties, including disproportionate use of force by Syrian authorities."

The draft does not include any sanctions or arms embargo.

German Ambassador Peter Wittig suggested that diplomats "can close the gaps between members of the council" on a resolution.

"We are considering the Russian draft, and after our first study, we think it is insufficient," Wittig said.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud said, "Russia has felt the pressure from the international community."

The Russian proposal comes as a new Human Rights Watch report, based on interviews with dozens of Syrian soldiers who have fled to neighboring countries, gave details about government attacks on civilians.

"The defectors provided detailed information about their units' participation in attacks, abuses against Syrian citizens, and the orders they received from commanders and officials at various levels, who are named in the report," Human Rights Watch said.

The report -- titled "By All Means Necessary!" -- includes the "names, ranks and positions of those who gave the orders to shoot and kill, and each and every official named in this report, up to the very highest levels of the Syrian government, should answer for their crimes against the Syrian people," said Human Rights Watch Associate Director Anna Neistat, one of its authors.

The U.N. Security Council "should ensure accountability by referring Syria to the International Criminal Court," Neistat said.

A young girl was among 13 civilians killed in Syrian violence Thursday, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition group that organizes and documents protests.

Violence has been occurring every day in Syria, whose regime has been under international pressure to end the government's assault against protests -- a relentless push leaving more than 5,000 dead, according to the United Nations.

Despite initial peaceful demonstrators, the bloody crackdown has spurred the rise of the Free Syrian Army.

Syrian army defectors killed as many as 27 security forces in southern Syria on Thursday, anti-government sources said, the latest in a string of actions by anti-regime armed forces.

Capt. Kais Katana, leader of the El Omari Platoon of the Free Syrian Army in Daraa province, said the forces attacked a security checkpoint in response to army operations in the province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group based in London, reported the deaths of "27 elements of the army and security forces" in "three clashes with army defectors at checkpoints and roadblocks in the city of Daraa."

CNN cannot independently confirm the reports of deaths and violence because the Syrian government limits the access of foreign journalists to the country.

On Wednesday, army defectors killed eight troops after five civilians died in the suburbs of Hama, in the west, the Observatory reported. On Tuesday, army defectors killed seven government security forces in a convoy attack in response to the deaths of 11 civilians in Idlib province, activists said.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said in a report last month that the anti-government force "appears to be gaining in strength and effectiveness, and Damascus now faces both peaceful and armed resistance. So far, the FSA has proven resilient in the face of regime measures to suppress it."

The Free Syrian Army emerged last summer, and its forces are operating in "urban areas and in the countryside," that report said.

Most of its operations appear to be "small-unit action," and they include "defense of local areas, ambushes of convoys and vehicles, attacks on regime positions and facilities, attacks on regime security forces and militia elements, attacks on regime officials and military officers, intervention against regime forces attacking demonstrators, and road closings."

The report, issued November 30, said the army has fought at least three serious "battles": for Rastan/Talbisah from September 27-October 1, for Homs from October 28-November 8, and for Kherbet Ghazalah from November 14.

It said the Free Syrian Army's actions are forcing "the regime to deploy forces throughout the country and fight, not just continue to shoot unarmed civilians."

Such developments have raised fears that a civil war could break out in Syria, concerns most recently raised by Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

Frederic C. Hof, special coordinator for regional affairs of the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace at the State Department, told a U.S. House subcommittee on Wednesday that the United States, protest groups, citizens and other world powers are trying to stave off war and make change through diplomacy.

But Hof understands the existence of armed resistance to the regime.

"For nine months, he has stayed on course," Hof said of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"A course featuring death, incarceration, torture and terror. Is it any wonder that peaceful protest threatens to morph into violent resistance?"

One of the reasons government soldiers have reportedly defected is because they have been ordered to kill or torture protesters.

CNN's Ivan Watson and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.

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