Both Syrian official media and the opposition branded an international plan for a transition in Syria a failure, as the death toll for a weekend of violence topped 140.
World powers meeting in Geneva on June 30 agreed a transition plan that could include current regime members, but the West did not see any role for President Bashar al-Assad in a new unity government.
Russia and China insisted that Syrians themselves must decide how the transition happens, rather than allow others to dictate their fate.
Moscow and Beijing, which have twice blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria, both signed up to the final agreement that did not make any explicit call for al-Assad to cede power. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was “delighted” with the result.
Official Syrian media and the opposition Local Coordination Committees (LCC) group demonstrated rare agreement in slamming the outcome. The meeting “failed,” trumpeted Al-Baath, newspaper of the ruling party, Agence France-Presse reported. “The agreement … resembles an enlarged meeting of the U.N. Security Council where the positions of participants remained the same,” it said.
The LCC called the transition accord “just one version, different in form only, of the demands of Russian leaders allied to the al-Assad regime.” Burhan Ghalioun, former head of the opposition Syrian National Council, told pan-Arab television Al-Arabiya that “this is the worst international statement yet to emerge from talks on Syria.”
But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it sent a clear message to al-Assad that he must quit. “Assad will still have to go,” Clinton told reporters. “What we have done here is to strip away the fiction that he and those with blood on their hands can stay in power.” Clinton also said the U.S. would “accelerate” its work at the Security Council on a resolution that would “impose real and immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions.” In weekend violence, more than 140 people were killed across Syria. At least 21 people were killed yesterday, including five in the central province of Hama.