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September 06, 2012

Putin: Moscow Won't Change Position on Syria

by VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled that Moscow is not ready to shift its stance on supporting Syria, and suggested that Western nations are relying on militant groups like al-Qaida to help topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking Thursday on Russia Today television, Putin called this a "dangerous and very shortsighted" policy, but he did not name specific countries.

The Russian leader questioned why Russia should be the one to re-think its policy toward Syria.  He said, "perhaps our negotiating partners should reevaluate their position."

Moscow has maintained that dialogue with the Assad government and opposition activists is necessary for peace.  Moscow has angered the United States and other Western nations by blocking strong sanctions against Syria by the United Nations Security Council.  

Also Thursday, Iraq denied U.S. allegations that it is allowing Iran to fly through its airspace to deliver weapons to Syria.

An Iraqi government spokesman said Baghdad will not allow any government to use its airspace to arm any of the parties in Syria.  Three U.S. senators - Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, and John McCain - told Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad that such action would damage ties with Washington.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Assad's forces have recaptured a town on the border with Jordan used as a transit point by refugees escaping the war.  The group said hundreds of Syrian soldiers backed by tanks assaulted Tel Chehab early Thursday, arresting dozens of people and setting fire to rebel safehouses.