05/31/2012, 00.00
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Washington and Moscow clash over Syria's looming civil war

Russia and China oppose new sanctions against Syrian regime. For US secretary of State, Russia is contributing to a disastrous civil war. Ban Ki-Moon describes Houla massacre as turning point for Assad regime. The latter releases 500 political prisoners arrested in 14 months of unrest.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Tensions are rising in the United Nations Security Council over the Syria crisis. For US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russia "is going help to contribute to a civil war" because of its soft policy vis-à-vis the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Her statement comes a few hours after Moscow and Beijing rejected new sanctions or armed action against the Syrian government.

Speaking at an Istanbul forum of the UN-led Alliance of Civilizations initiative, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned today of a "catastrophic civil war from which the country would never recover," especially after the Houla massacre, where 108 people, including 49 children, were brutally murdered.

The Syrian regime has thus been forced to adhere to Kofi Annan's six-point plan. So far, neither the rebels nor government forces have respected it.

The UN chief is particularly concerned that the Syrian crisis might see the country break up along sectarian lines like the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

To show its good will, the Syrian authorities released 500 people who has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the 14-month-old revolt.

"Five hundred people involved in the events taking place in Syria, without blood on their hands, have been released," state TV reported.

According to UN sources, 9,000 people have died after more than a year of fighting between Syrian forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

For the Assad regime, the death toll stands at 3,838 people, 2,493 civilians and 1,345 soldiers and members of the security forces.


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