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Syria ready to let monitors stay, rebel commander calls for help from UN

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Syria's foreign ministry said on Tuesday it was "astonished" at Qatar's suggestion, which it "absolutely rejected".

AN OLD ALLY

The League could ask the U.N. Security Council to act, but until now opposition from Russia andChina has prevented the world body from even criticising Syria, an old ally of Moscow.

Western diplomats said a Russian draft resolution handed to the council on Monday did not make clear if Moscow would accept tough language demanded by the West.

French Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal described Moscow's latest draft as disappointing, saying Paris had proposed constructive amendments to the Russian text.

"After a month of silence a new text has just been submitted by Russia, which still falls far short of responding to the reality in Syria," he said. "We've been saying this for months now: the Security Council's silence is scandalous."

Few Western powers favour any Libyan-style military action in Syria, which lies in the heart of the conflict-prone Middle East. Bordering Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Israel, it is allied to Iran and the armed Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah group.

Iran condemned what it called foreign interference in the affairs of its closest Arab ally, Syria, and praised reforms President Assad has promised as "problem-solving".

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