France Calls on UN to Condemn Attacks on Its Syria Embassy

France PM says UN Security Council silence on Syria 'unbearable', blames China and Russia for blocking resolution against Assad.

France called for a UN Security Council meeting on Syria on Tuesday, seeking a UN condemnation of the attacks this week on U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.

Washington has also pushed for the meeting, which should happen later on Tuesday, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told Reuters.

protest U.S. Embassy in Damascus - AP - 11.5.11

"We hope the Security Council will condemn the embassy attacks," Valero told reporters, a day after crowds loyal to President Bashar Assad tried to storm the U.S. and French embassies, prompting French embassy guards to fire live ammunition to disperse the mob.

"We want the Security council to speak out on what has happened," Valero said.

Paris has led efforts to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria's crackdown on pro-reform protests, saying President Bashar Assad has lost his legitimacy.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said earlier on Tuesday the UN Security Council's silence on Syria -- where some 1,400 have been killed since the unrest began some 15 weeks ago -- was becoming "unbearable".

Fillon said China and Russia were blocking the adoption of a UN resolution and that this was not acceptable.

"President Assad has gone way beyond the limit. The UN Security Council's silence on Syria is becoming unbearable," Fillon told Europe 1 radio.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told France Info radio Paris was working hard at the UN headquarters in New York to secure a UN response. "We are trying in particular to convince the Russians that it's not acceptable that the Security Council let what's happening in Syria happen without reacting," he said.

Monday's embassy attacks marked a sharp escalation in tensions between Syria and France. A mob tried to break through the entrance to the French embassy, smashing windows and penetrating the perimeter. Three French guards were injured and vehicles were destroyed.

A similar crowd broke into the U.S. embassy but later left. No U.S. embassy workers were hurt.

Running out of control

The attacks came three days after the U.S. and French ambassadors to Syria visited the restive city of Hama in a show of support for pro-democracy demonstrators who have been gathering there in the hundreds of thousands.

"What happened yesterday evening shows the regime is running out of control and President Assad's staying in power looks less tenable with each day that passes," Fillon said.

Britain also condemned Monday's attacks, saying the Syrian authorities had failed to carry out their responsibilities under international law to protect diplomatic missions.

"The damage done to the U.S. and French missions is clearly intended as a response to the visit to Hama late last week by their ambassadors in Syria. I reassert the right under international law of all diplomats to freedom of movement," British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said.

"This is an issue of direct concern to the UK and to all countries with diplomatic missions in Syria. All EU member states in Syria are today seeking urgent assurances from the Syrian foreign ministry," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday Assad -- whose family has ruled Syria for 41 years -- had lost legitimacy and was "not indispensable".

The comments mark a significant sharpening of rhetoric on Assad, whose security forces have used increasingly brutal tactics against protesters inspired by pro-democracy movements elsewhere in the Arab world.

The uprising against Assad began in March, in the biggest threat to his rule since he succeeded his father 11 years ago.