Syria's President Bashar al-Assad
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Reuters

Russia has offered the United Nations Security Council a new draft resolution on the violence in Syria after having previously vetoed resolutions proposed by the European council members.

We made no secret of the fact, and it is reflected in the text, that we call on violence to be stopped from all sides. We are concerned about weapons smuggling, the armed groups operating in Syria. As you know from the outset our assessment of the situation is that various violent groups there are taking advantage of peaceful demonstrators in order to pursue their agenda. So those concerns are reflected in the draft resolution,” said Russia's Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin.

The draft resolution proposed by Russia endorses efforts by the Arab League to resolve the crisis in Syria and welcomes plans to deploy a monitoring mission in the country as clashes between the Syrian army and the opposition continue.

In October, Russia and China vetoed a European draft resolution that threatened sanctions. The U.S. has welcomed Russia's new position. “Hopefully we can work with the Russians, who for the first time at least, have recognized that this is a matter that needs to go to the Security Council. It’s just we have differences in how they are approaching it, but we hope to be able to work with them,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Syrian Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa has arrived in Moscow, where he will hold talks with the Russian officials.

The U.N. says 5,000 civilians have been killed in Syrian violence since March. President Bashar al-Assad has denied ordering a crackdown against thousands of protestors and said that gunmen have killed 1,100 of his armed forces. This comes as a serious setback to the 11-year rule of Assad, who belongs to the minority Alawite sect that has been at the helm of power for four decades in majority Sunni Muslim Syria.