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West Pushes For UN Resolution On Syria As Fighting Rages

Smoke rises from a Damascus suburb as fighting rages in parts of the Syrian capital on January 29.
The West is pushing for a new resolution on Syria as fighting raged for a third consecutive day on the outskirts of Damascus on January 30.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the UN Security Council "must act" to end President Bashar al-Assad regime's "violent and brutal attacks on its own people."

Clinton said she will be going to the United Nations on January 31 to send a "clear message" of support for the Syrian people.

On January 29, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice criticized the Security Council's lack of coordinated action over Syria.

"We have seen the consequences of neglect and inaction by this Council over the course of the last 10 months, not because the majority of the Council isn't eager to act -- it has been -- but there have been a couple of very powerful members who have not been willing to see that action take place," she said

Russia has previously refused to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Assad regime.

France and Britain have also said they will be sending their foreign ministers to New York to seek support for a European-Arab draft UN Security Council resolution calling for a transfer of power in Syria.

A French official who was speaking on condition of anonymity was quoted as saying in Paris that the text has support from at least 10 members -- enough for it to go to a vote.

The Arab League has called on al-Assad to hand power to a deputy who would then form a national unity government.

Russian Opposition

On January 29, Russia said it had invited the Syrian government to hold talks with the opposition in Moscow to end the violence.

But an unnamed senior member of the Syrian Opposition Council says no invitation has been received and that any talks backed by Moscow would be rejected.

On January 29, the Arab League announced it was suspending its month-long monitoring mission in Syria because of the upsurge in violence.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the move could have negative consequences.

"We are gravely concerned that as these Arab League monitors have pulled out, the Syrian regime has taken this as an excuse to just let loose in horrific ways against innocents," she said.

Activists said at least 29 people, mostly civilians were killed across Syria on January 30.

The previous say, some 80 people were reportedly killed, both civilians and military, in what was said to be the most intense fighting since the 10-month old rebellion against al-Assad's regime began in March.

Possible 'Massacre'

On January 30, the opposition Syrian National Council warned of a possible "massacre" of hundreds of young men rounded up by security forces in a town near Damascus.

It said security forces backed by tanks and rocket-launchers had raided Rankus, 40 kilometers north of the capital.

Such reports cannot be independently verified because of a government ban on foreign journalists in Syria.

The United Nations says more than 5,400 people have been killed in a 10-month crackdown on antigovernment protesters in the country.

compiled from agency reports