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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2012


Syria's carnage

While Russia calls for diplomacy to end the conflict in Syria, the shocking bloodshed continues.

The United Nations said early last month that more than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began last March. Hundreds more are believed to have been killed since.

At least two major international diplomatic efforts have flopped. The first, by the Arab League, came to nothing. The second, at the United Nations, failed over the weekend: A U.N. Security Council resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, strongly pushed by the United States and the West, was vetoed by China and Russia.

The latter nations cited the chaotic results of efforts at regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. With their vetoes, China and especially Russia have assumed responsibility for finding a solution to ending Syria's fighting.

Russia has been an ally of Syria since the Cold War, providing the government of Mr. Assad's father, Hafez Assad, tons of sophisticated arms. Russia has dispatched its foreign minister and foreign- intelligence chief to Damascus to provide incentives and twist arms. With presidential elections in Russia coming soon, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would no doubt like to achieve a peace agreement.

The United States closed its embassy in Damascus this week. President Obama cited security concerns and suggested a desire to punish Syria's government. But that action also curtails America's ability to follow and influence events and efforts there to resolve the conflict.

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