France Wants U.N. to Condemn Syria After Attacks

July 12, 2011 - 10:14 AM

PARIS (AP) — France wants the U.N. Security Council to condemn Syria for its failure to respect international law after attacks on the French and U.S. embassies in Damascus, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the attacks — Sunday and Monday, by supporters of President Bashar Assad as Syrian security forces looked on — show that the Syrian leader has "gone beyond all boundaries."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said France wants the Security Council to condemn the attacks in a session which he suggested could come later in the day.

Three French Embassy employees were injured. Valero said that guards had to fire three warning shots to disperse the demonstrators on Monday, some of whom threw rocks weighing up to 4 kilograms (nearly 9 pounds) that smashed windows. He added that the situation remained tense for a three-hour period. The U.S. Embassy was subjected to similar treatment.

The pro-government mobs also spray-painted obscenities and graffiti on the walls.

"These are very serious incidents ... This is a question of international law, to know whether Syria respects it or not," the ministry spokesman said, noting that a failure by Syrian security to respond to the attacks contravenes the Vienna Convention under which countries must protect diplomatic missions and allow ambassadors freedom of movement.

The mobs attacked the embassies to protest visits last week by the American and French ambassadors to Hama, an opposition stronghold in central Syria.

Respect for international law "is what is at stake in the debate today," Valero said, not the incidents themselves. "Something must be said at the highest level."

Prime Minister Fillon said the attacks show that "each passing day makes it more and more difficult" for Assad to remain in power.

Speaking Tuesday on Europe-1 radio, Fillon said that with the embassy attacks, "Assad has gone beyond all boundaries.

The incidents "show this regime is on a slippery slope," Fillon added.

He urged the United Nations' Security Council to take action, saying the "silence on Syria has become untenable."

A resolution by France and other western countries that would condemn Syria for its actions against pro-democracy demonstrators has failed to pass.