The United Nations Security Council is to vote on a resolution regarding Syria on Saturday, with all eyes on Russia, Syria’s strongest ally on the council.
Russia initially rejected parts of the latest draft, but it remains unclear which way they will vote on Saturday, as hope remains that the resolution could still be passed.
Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon told reporters that the council was “very close… two words away" from an accord.
Whilst the latest text does not explicitly mention sanctions, parts of the resolution are still opposed by Russia, including warnings of “further measures” and that the council “fully supports” the Arab League plan.
A Western official commented that if an agreement was to be reached at the UN,
"It would scare the Assad regime a lot more than a more robust text vetoed by Russians."
"It would mean the Russians are slowly accepting the idea that Assad will depart and would also send a powerful message to people around Assad that it might be time to leave the sinking ship."
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, reportedly spoke on the phone with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in an attempt to smooth over any opposition leading upto the vote.
Meanwhile, more than 200 people were reported to be killed in the city of Homs as President Assad’s troops shelled the city. The UN has ceased to estimate the number of deaths since the end of January, citing that it was now too difficult to confirm any casualties.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it was ready to assist in the rescue operation following a landslide in the Upcountry on Wednesday, which is believed to have left hundreds dead.
The Secretary General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma called for a reduction of the Sri Lankan military;s role in the Northern Province, saying this was important to address Tamil people’s legitimate concerns.
The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has confirmed that the visit of Pope Francis to the island wil go ahead as scheduled, despite the controversy regarding the presidential election, due to occur in the same time period.
Officials from the UN Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) are due to visit Jaffna during their trip to Sri Lanka, where they will assess the country’s approach in countering terrorism.