The UN General Assembly is scheduled to meet Thursday to consider a Saudi Arabia-led draft resolution condemning the continuing violence in Syria and calling for a political transition to a democratic system, Haaretz.com reported.
Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered a referendum for later this month on a new constitution that would allow political parties other than his ruling Baath Party as part of promised reforms, The Associated Press said. Thousands of Syrians have been killed since the unrest began in March. Despite pressure to end the bloodshed, the Syrian military launched a fresh offensive Wednesday on the city of Hama, firing on residential neighborhoods from armored vehicles and mobile anti-aircraft guns, opposition activists told Reuters.
The White House has been one of Assad's strongest critics. U.S. press secretary Jay Carney said Assad's call for a referendum is quite laughable in light of the ongoing brutality by the Syrian military. Carney said it makes a mockery of the Syrian uprising, AP reported.
Western powers and the Arab League have been working toward a resolution of the Syrian confict. It is the latest revolt in the Arab world, which saw the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya toppled last year.