World divided on Syria

EXODUS. Thousands of Syrians flood across the border into Iraq recently in search of shelter. © UNHCR/G. Gubaeva

World powers remain divided over what to do with Syria as they fail to reach an agreement during the G20 summit in Russia. A diplomatic source tells AFP the leaders aired their positions on the Syria crisis over 3 hours in 10-minute speeches. Russia leads the  opposition to US-led military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over a chemical attack last month outside Damascus, which Washington says the regime initiated. EU president Herman van Rompuy says while the Damascus chemical attack was “a crime against humanity” there was “no military solution to the Syrian conflict.” The White House is pushing Congress to approve military strikes on Syria. On Thursday, it cleared its first hurdle when a Senate committee approves a plan allowing 90 days of limited military intervention in Syria. US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power says there is no way to seek Security Council approval for action against al-Assad because of Russia’s blocking. She also says Russia’s protection of Assad puts the whole Security Council system of handling international crises under strain. Power adds, “Even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities.” Russian President Vladimir Putin says he would be ready to consider Security Council action if he could be convinced that Assad forces staged the August 21 attack. But Power said she does not believe Putin would budge from his position.

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