The UN Security Council on Monday backed a push for Syrian peace talks as the death toll in government air strikes on a rebel-held town outside Damascus neared 100, sparking global outrage.
The unanimously approved Security Council statement, the first of its kind in two years, was described as “historic” by French Deputy Ambassador to the UN Alexis Lamek.
It came just hours after UN officials expressed horror over Sunday’s deadly raids on Douma, among the bloodiest regime attacks in Syria’s four-year war.
Calling for a political transition to end a conflict that has killed about 240,000 people, the council text was adopted by Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the other 14 member states despite reservations from Venezuela.
The 16-point plan backs a peace initiative, set to begin next month, aiming to set up four working groups to address safety and protection, counterterrorism, political and legal issues and reconstruction.
The council demanded that all sides work for a an end to the war by “launching a Syrian-led political process leading to a political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”
It made no specific mention of Assad’s future, but Western governments have made clear that a transition would involve his exit from power at some point in time.
Venezuela, which has friendly relations with Syria, disassociated itself from parts of the statement.
The statement was adopted a day after regime air strikes on a marketplace and other parts of Douma, in the rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, killed at least 96 and injured 240, according to Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
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