By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “lost his legitimacy” to rule Syria amid the bloody crackdown by his forces against opposition demonstrators.
Juppe spoke on June 6 after Syrian state-run television reported the deaths of more than 120 members of the Syrian security forces in battles with antigovernment forces in an apparent escalation of the conflict.
Speaking in Washington, the French foreign minister said France was ready to ask the 15-member United Nations Security Council to vote on a draft resolution condemning the Assad regime for killing and torturing peaceful protesters.
Juppe acknowledged, however, that such a resolution could be vetoed by Russia. Russia was among the Security Council members who opposed a European-led attempt to rebuke Syria in May.
“We think, all together, that now we must go ahead and circulate this draft resolution in the Security Council,” said Juppe, speaking at the Brookings Institution in the U.S. capital after talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“We think that it will be possible to get 11 votes in favor of the resolution. And we’ll see what the Russians will do. If they veto, they will take their responsibility,” he added. “Maybe if they see that there are 11 voters in favor of the resolution, they will change their mind — though it’s a risk to take and we’re ready to take it.”
No independent confirmation is available of the Syrian television report on the deaths of 120 security forces around the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour, as Syrian authorities have prevented most international media from operating in the country.
Syrian government ministers were quoted as saying the authorities would respond firmly to the armed attacks.
Opposition activists have expressed skepticism about the official casualty toll, saying they fear the regime is setting the stage for an intensified crackdown on protesters.
Rights groups say more than 1,200 civilians have been killed in the crackdown on the protests against Assad’s regime since the Syrian unrest erupted in mid-March.