(IP) An international conference has been proposed and confirmed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the crisis in Syria. In April, Lavrov, working with the Iranian Foreign Minister, announced that both sides in the conflict were willing to talk; this is the preliminary which would once again set the stage for the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad and the opposition coalition to discuss measures that would possibly bring to a halt fighting which has claimed thousands of lives. Meanwhile, the violence and bloodshed continues.
In a series of seemingly contradictory events, the US, along with members of the UN General Assembly recently voted to ‘condemn’ the Al Assad government. Although the vote indicated a ‘yes’ majority of the Assembly to formally denounce the Syrian regime, the number of nations abstaining from voting their countries’ disapproval was substantial – 59, including some Asian, African, and Latin American countries. ‘No’ votes came from China, Syria, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and others, including Russia, who termed the resolution ‘very harmful and destructive’ and lobbied against it, according to an InterPress News Service (IPS) report.
The reaction of the US and Britain to the report of UN human rights investigator Carla del Ponte that the rebel forces in Syria had used sarin gas, a deadly nerve-effecting chemical, was one which distanced them from the official findings of the UN investigator, whose questioning of doctors and victims resulted in ‘very strong, concrete evidence’ that opposition forces had used the chemical weapons.
The Syrian News Agency reported small numbers of civilian casualties in the past weeks and greater numbers of injuries; also, that Syrian forces prevailed against rebels in the recent fighting in al-Qseir and in the surrounding al-Wa'ar area in Homs, disarming dozens of explosive devices that had been planted in homes and public buildings.