US, Russia spar over Syria at UNSC meeting

United Nations: Bitter wrangling between the US and Russia dominated a high-level meeting of the UN Secutiy Council on Syria as the two sides differed sharply over who is to blame for the violence in that country, and what should be the international community`s approach in dealing with Bashar Al Assad`s regime.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the powerful 15-nation Council that while America believes firmly in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, "we do not believe that sovereignty demands that this council stand silent when governments massacre their own people, threatening regional peace and security in the process".

Clinton said it is critical that the Assad government end the violence against its own people, adding that it is not right to expect that the "defenceless citizens" of Syria should not defend themselves in the face of artillery assaults unless there is a commitment by the Assad regime to stop the violence.

"There must be a cessation of violence by the Syrian regime first and foremost. Then we can move toward asking others, who will no longer need to defend themselves because we will be in a political process, to end their own counter-violence. And we reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government`s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defence," Clinton said at a UNSC meeting on Monday on the situation in the Middle East.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov however said while Russia agrees that Syrian authorities "bear a huge share of responsibility", opposition fighters and extremists including al-Qaeda are also responsible for the violence in Syria.