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West to increase pressure on Syria over humanitarian aid

March 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Western countries are going to increase the pressure on the Syrian regime for guarantees about getting humanitarian aid into the country, especially to the besieged city of Homs. A report on said that diplomats are working on a draft resolution to put to the UN Security Council to help the people trapped in the central Syrian city. The regime will also be told to speed up the dismantling of its chemical weapons.

The report noted that the first round of talks mediated by the UN-Arab envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Geneva have not reached any tangible results. The talks attended by representatives of the Assad regime and opposition groups are scheduled to resume on February 10.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said it is “absolutely unacceptable” that 2,500 civilians remain blocked for more than 600 days in old Homs and others in Al-Ghota, while UN lorries loaded with humanitarian aid are on standby to help them.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with UN sanctions if he does not respect his obligations regarding the destruction of his chemical arsenal. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that less than 5 per cent of the dangerous chemicals have been removed from Syria. It called for the process to be speeded up as it is supposed to be completed by May according to the international agreement.

Syria should have removed 700 tons of dangerous chemicals, including Sarin and mustard gas, by the 31st December. An additional 500 tons should be removed by February 5.

Western diplomats said that Russia would not accept sanctions on Damascus. The Russians and the Chinese have vetoed three previous Security Council resolutions since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in March 2011.

A Senior Fellow in the Programme on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute, Andrew Tabler, said that the current diplomatic campaign is a means to push Assad to move forward and the Russians to do something in order to get some concessions from Damascus.

OPCW coordinator Sigrid Kaag is to send a report the chemical weapons to the Security Council on Thursday.