The envisaged new resolution, under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, could in some circumstances authorize military intervention in Syria. It would also impose global sanctions against Syria, including an arms embargo, and demand Assad’s cooperation with Annan’s plan.
Russia has vetoed two previous Security Council resolutions, along with China. It has also rejected any arms embargo that did not also apply to rebel forces in Syria. The way forward is further complicated as the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate and opposition groups struggle to present a unified front.
Human Rights Watch recently described an “archipelago” of torture centers operating around the country, and the head of a U.N. monitoring group said violence has reached “unprecedented” levels. On Friday, activists said that Syrian forces had killed at least 25 people and arrested scores of others during an operation to seize the northern rebel-held city of Khan Sheikhoun, according to the Associated Press.
A meeting this week of more than 30 opposition groups and other Syrian exiles in Cairo, intended to convey unity ahead of Friday’s conference, degenerated into chaos and fistfights before most of the disparate groups finally agreed on a plan demanding Assad’s removal and outlining a transitional government, elections and a constitutional referendum.
One opposition leader told the conference Friday that while Syrian rebels seem to have “many friends,” Assad remains in power and continues his crackdown.
“We would like your friendship to be efficient, effective — to help us put an end to this massacre,” said the opposition leader, whose name was not distributed to reporters.
Clinton met with four opposition leaders at the conference, including longtime dissident Riad Seif and Khaled Abu Saleh, a member of the Homs Revolutionary Council who recently left Syria.
Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.