By Charley Keyes
Amid continued expressions of outrage Tuesday over violence in Syria, the U.S. State Department singled out Russia for blocking a United Nations response.
"We are again calling on our partners on the Security Council to be willing to take action and speak out for the innocents in Syria who are suffering at the hands of the regime, including Russia," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at her afternoon briefing. "And frankly, we think it is past time for the U.N. Security Council to speak up."
Nuland said a chorus of countries, including the United States, is calling on Russia and other countries on the Security Council to respond. Russia, a long-time ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was one of four Security Council countries voting against a resolution condemning Syria.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights reported this week that 5,000 people have died in the Syrian upheaval.
"Five-thousand innocent civilians now dead in Syria - it is absolutely chilling some of the things the U.N. has found, particularly with regard to the viciousness of the regime," Nuland said. "We put responsibility for the violence squarely at the door of the regime."
And Nuland said it is important to note that the vast majority of anti-regime protests in Syria have been peaceful.
"From our perspective we have supported peaceful protests. We will continue to do so," she said. "We know where the violence is coming from. The violence is coming from the Assad regime, his brutality."
Nuland warned against any shift to armed response by regime opponents.
"The view of the vast majority of Syrians, and particularly those in opposition, a view that we share, is that further militarizing the situation in Syria is not in the interests of anyone and could threaten to rip the fiber of the country apart," Nuland said. "This is exactly what the regime wants. The regime wants an armed conflict because that is what they understand."