Israeli envoy to UN: Assad likely to use chemical weapons on his own people
Saudi-sponsored General Assembly resolution deplores regime's violence against civilians.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor warned the General Assembly Friday that Syrian President Bashar Assad could use chemical weapons on the Syrian people saying "We should not pretend that a regime that cuts the throats of children today will not be prepared to gas them tomorrow."
The General Assembly condemned Syria's military campaign against anti-regime rebels in a resolution that also censured the Security Council for failing to stop the bloodshed. The resolution deplored "the increasing use by the Syrian authorities of heavy weapons, including indiscriminate shelling from tanks and helicopters, in population centers and the failure to withdraw its troops and the heavy weapons to their barracks."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the assembly that Syria faced the "grim possibility of long-term civil war," and warned of the risk of a "proxy war, with regional and international players arming one side or the other."
"What is especially tragic about Syria is that this catastrophe was avoidable," he said.
The resolution was passed in a 133-12 vote, with 31 abstentions. China, Iran and Cuba voted against the resolution, which Western diplomats said had been intended to highlight Russia's and China's isolation for using their veto power in the Security Council to protect Assad.
The vote came one day after UN-Arab League peace envoy to Syria Kofi Annan resigned, following more than five months of diplomacy which failed to stop the bloodshed.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said that while the General Assembly was "no stranger to distortions and absurdities," the Syrian representative's recent speeches to the body had "managed to take the art of fabrication in this hall to new heights."
"If lying was an Olympic event, I have no doubt that the Syrian regime and its representatives could easily win a gold medal," he added.
Calling the Syrian president "the world’s most dangerous ophthalmologist," Prosor warned of the dangers of pushing him into a corner.
"For years, Assad repeatedly denied that he held chemical weapons. Surprise, surprise…last week we heard a new revelation from Syrian officials: Assad has chemical weapons – and his government is prepared to use them. The world should wake up to this dangerous reality today, not tomorrow. We should not pretend that a regime that cuts the throats of children today will not be prepared to gas them tomorrow," he said.
Prosor also stressed the connections between Syrian regime and "its evil allies" Iran and Hezbollah. "The experience and capabilities of Iran and Hezbollah in repression are on full display in Syria. They provide weapons, ammunition, training, intelligence and logistical equipment to Assad," he said.
"Assad’s partners in this 'trio of terror' are not shy about discussing their role in the slaughter. Last week, Nasrallah gave a speech praising the Assad regime, calling it 'a real military partner.' And just several days ago, Iran’s vice president promised the Syrian foreign minister that Iran will continue to offer its 'experience and capabilities' to Assad’s killing machine."
"It is time for the international community to hold all three members of this 'trio of terror' accountable for their crimes," he concluded.
Russia condemned the resolution, complaining that it was tantamount to a show of support for rebels fighting to oust Assad. Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the assembly that the Saudi-drafted resolution "hides blatant support to the armed opposition."
Meanwhile, opposition activists in Syria said more than 62 people, including women and children, were killed Friday in a massacre committed by forces loyal to President Assad in Hama. The claim by the Local Coordination Committees could not be independently verified.
Syria, Russia ink oil deal
Also Friday, Syria reached an agreement with its ally Russia to secure much-needed fuel, as a delegation of ministers sent by President Assad asked Moscow to help alleviate the effects of sanctions on the war-torn country.
Under the deal, Syria will export its crude oil to Russia in exchange for refined oil products, which Damascus sorely needs to keep its economy and military running.
"Russia wants to help the Syrian people," Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Qadri Jamil told reporters in Moscow on Friday. "We will deliver our oil and receive gasoline and fuel oil; it will be a barter," he said, adding that Syria is producing about 200,000 barrels per day.
However, Syria's Oil Minister Said Hneidi said production was less than 140,000 barrels per day.
Qatar says Annan successor needs new Syria plan
"There must be a clear modification to this plan now because the issue of the six points is finished," Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said. "None of them has been implemented."
Annan said on Thursday he was stepping down as joint representative for the Arab League and United Nations on Syria.
His peace plan was centered around an April ceasefire agreement between President Bashar Assad's government and rebel fighters, as a first step towards political dialogue. The ceasefire never took hold and thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels have been killed since it was agreed.
Sheikh Hamad blamed the failure of the plan on "Syrian procrastination" and the increased bloodshed.
"We, as Arab countries will not accept another envoy representing the Arabs and the Security Council because the circumstances have completely changed," Sheikh Hamad told Al Jazeera television.
"We believe that the task of any new envoy - if they want participation from Arab states - much be changed so that the mission is the peaceful transfer of power in Syria."