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Russia Says It Can't Support UN Syria Draft Resolution

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov
Russia's deputy foreign minister says his country "cannot support" a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria.
Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying that the changes that took some of Russia’s concerns into account were “not enough for us."
It is not clear whether the comments meant that Russia, which holds a permanent seat on the Security Council, would veto the resolution or abstain from voting.
Diplomats said the new draft took into account concerns by Russia, a longstanding ally of the Syrian regime
The text, drafted by European and Arab countries, "fully supports" what it calls the Arab League’s decision "to facilitate a political transition" in Syria.
A league plan calls on President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to a deputy to oversee a political transition.
Thousands Killed

The watered-down UN text, however, does not explicitly call on Assad to step down or mention an arms embargo or sanctions, but "fully supports" an Arab League plan to facilitate a democratic transition.
In early January, the United Nations estimated that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown on dissent since mass protests against Assad's regime began in March.
But Moscow has opposed any suggestion that the resolution could be seen as backing regime change in Damascus and has demanded guarantees that it would not lead to outside military intervention.
Russia has continued to supply weapons to Syria despite the uprising there.
In Syria itself, activists said at least 20 more people were reported killed on February 3, several during clashes between government troops and army defectors.
Reports said several rallies took place in the capital itself with security forces firing on protesters.
The violence came as thousands of people across the country defied the government crackdown to commemorate a 1982 massacre in the central city of Hama in which thousands were killed.

compiled from agency reports