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Russia strongly opposes draft UN resolution condemning Syria for its deadly crackdown on protesters, officials say.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow believes that Syrians must settle an internal conflict without any foreign interference.

At a closed meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York, European Nations, including Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, tabled UN resolution calling for an end to violence in the country.

In a fresh bid to increase pressure on President Bashar Assad’s regime, UN diplomats said the new draft – which calls for reforms and an end to violence – is aimed at winning more support for a UN Security Council resolution.

It came as residents of the Syrian village of Jisr al-Shughour flee into neighbouring Turkey, fearing a massacre of anti-regime protesters following an army mutiny.

A Turkish official said 1,000 Syrians crossed the border overnight, raising the number of refugees in the country to 1,600.

Activists say elite Syrian forces are heading for the town, while Turkey says it is preparing for a mass influx of refugees.

Syrian troops believed to be led by Assad’s younger brother had almost surrounded the town, leaving open just one route to the border, according to activist Mustafa Osso.

Speaking of the UN resolution earlier, and referring to efforts to secure Russian backing for it, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “If anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience.”

The draft resolution condemns the repression and demands humanitarian access, Mr Cameron said.

Navi Pillay, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, accused Syria of trying to “bludgeon its population into submission” by attacking anti-government protesters with snipers, tanks and artillery.

Citing Nato’s continuing bombing of Tripoli, Moscow has said it will not back intervention against Syria in the Security Council.

Syria’s media blockade means it is impossible to know for sure what happened in Jisr al-Shughour in the northwest of Syria.

State media has said 120 soldiers were ambushed and killed by armed gangs.

But witnesses in the town claim the army attacked its own soldiers after they refused to open fire on unarmed protesters.

Syria is in the grips of the worst unrest in decades, after almost three months of protests and bloody repression by the Assad regime struggling to maintain its grip on power.

Activists say 1,100 people have been killed and more than 10,000 detained.

There is no way of verifying those claims since foreign journalists have been barred from entering the country.

If an army mutiny is under way or has happened in northern Syria it will be a serious escalation in the situation and a significant threat to the Assad regime.

skynews

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