4:36am UK, Wednesday February 08, 2012
America has warned Russia that giving its full backing to Syria’s President Bashar al Assad is a “recipe for failure”.
The White House said supporting the Syrian leader was a mistake because his authority is disappearing.
However, Barack Obama’s administration has insisted it is not considering arming opposition groups in the country to help end the violence.
Bombardments by the Assad regime have now pounded the city of Homs for four consecutive days and residents are braced for fresh shelling today.
Russia and China both vetoed a UN Security Council resolution at the weekend which condemned the crackdown by Mr Assad‘s regime.
And on Tuesday, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was given a hero’s welcome as he visited the country to hold talks with the Syrian leader in Damascus.
Mr Lavrov insisted the discussion had been “very useful” and that Mr Assad was “fully committed to ending the bloodshed.
But there is international scepticism at the prospect of Russia brokering a peace and activists in Homs are warning conditions there are becoming worse every day.
Sky News chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay, who has been reporting from the stricken city, said residents are “bracing themselves for what they believe is going to be a ground assault”.
The US has already called Russia and China’s veto a “travesty” and now White House spokesman Jay Carney has warned Syria’s allies they are backing a “losing bet”.
Mr Carney said: “Betting everything on Assad is a recipe for failure”, adding that Mr Assad’s hold on power was “very limited at best”.
Mr Carney played up signs that Mr Assad’s forces had lost control of several parts of Syria, and said he was running out of money and seeing his political prospects quickly weaken.
However, he also said that Washington still believed a “political” solution was possible to end the political crisis in Syria.
“There’s no question that (Assad) is operating with gross disregard for the health and safety and welfare of his own people. He is killing his own people,” he said.
US Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate in the 2008 election, had earlier said it was time for Washington to think about arming the rebels.
“We should start considering all options, including arming the opposition. The blood-letting has got to stop,” he said.