(NEW YORK) — The U.N. Security Council could vote as early as Friday on a resolution that backs political change in Syria, though the text of the agreement falls short of calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Previous versions of the legislation, which included a clearer call for a power transition as advocated by the Arab League, were criticized by Russian diplomats as amounting to an endorsement of regime change.
The U.N. says that more than 5,000 people have been killed in Syria’s bloody conflict, which could be headed towards civil war, but the Russians have consistently opposed efforts to either bring down Assad or impose an arms embargo. Russia is a key ally of Syria; its only foreign military base is located there.
According to the BBC, the resolution no longer includes a paragraph that would have prompted U.N. member states from stopping the flow of arms into Syria, but appears to garner the necessary consensus to avoid a Russian veto.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Russian opposition at an event Wednesday, prior to the revision.
“Are you on the side of the Syrian people, are you on the side of the Arab League, are you on the side of the people of the Middle East and North Africa who have during this past year spoken out courageously and often for their rights, or are you on the side of a brutal dictatorial regime?” Clinton said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN
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Oren Liebermann, CNN