UK ‘doing the maths’ over Syria resolution

By Alex Stevenson

Violence in Syria has boosted Britain's hopes of securing a UN security council resolution against Bashar al-Assad's regime, understands.

Eleven days have passed since Britain and France first tabled their draft resolution. Initial negotiations made limited progress and talks are now said to be 'paused'.

Diplomats now believe the urgent situation on the ground could change that, however. The last 72 hours have seen security forces clamp down on protests across Syria. Villages in the north-west are thought to be especially vulnerable in the coming days.

At present the UK believes it has secured nine out of 15 votes in favour of the resolution censuring Damascus. Diplomatic efforts are focused on Brazil, India and South Africa, a Foreign Office source confirmed.

India is unlikely to be won over. With 11 votes Britain could be prepared to push the resolution to a vote, however.

The biggest single obstacle to a resolution is Russia, which has repeatedly made clear it is opposed to further western-led interventions so soon after Libya.

UK diplomats believe a "change of heart" could be achieved which would persuade them to abstain instead.

"We continue to push ahead with the text for the resolution," a Foreign Office spokesperson said.

"We think that in light of the increased violence we've witnessed over the last few days, this might make the Russians more likely to see sense of it all."

Britain and France are not prepared to water down the text of the resolution any further, which does not propose any form of military intervention.

Instead it calls for the Syrian government to meet their people's legitimate demands, release all prisoners of conscience, lift restrictions on the media and internet and cooperate with the UN high commissioner for human rights.