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Russia: Friends of Syria Meeting 'Encouraged Extremists'

  • VOA News

Boys are pictured through a broken windshield as they stand on a street in Aleppo, Feb. 28, 2013.

Boys are pictured through a broken windshield as they stand on a street in Aleppo, Feb. 28, 2013.

Russia says the decisions made this week at a Friends of Syria meeting, during which the United States pledged new help for the Syrian opposition, will not help end the nearly two-year-long crisis.

In a statement Friday, Russia's foreign ministry said the decisions announced at the meeting in Rome would "directly encourage extremists" to seek power in Syria.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced $60 million in immediate aid to the Syrian opposition, including food, medical supplies and direct non-lethal aid to some of its military forces. Kerry heads to Turkey Friday for talks on how best to further aid rebel efforts.

Meanwhile, opposition groups are reporting fresh violence across Syria. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights tells VOA the bodies of 10 men were found dumped near a farm outside the the capital, Damascus. It says one man was decapitated and others were shot in the head. Their identities are not known.

The group also says fights broke out Friday in several contested areas of Aleppo, Reef Dimashq and Hama provinces. None of the reports could be confirmed.

On Thursday, the opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of executing 72 people near Aleppo. The Syrian National Coalition said the burned bodies were discovered following a government raid three days earlier on Malkiyeh village, south of Aleppo.

An estimated 70,000 people have been killed in the 23-month-long conflict.

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