News / Middle East

Russian FM Meets Syria's Assad as Violence Continues

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, at the presidential palace, in Damascus, Syria, February 7, 2012.
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, at the presidential palace, in Damascus, Syria, February 7, 2012.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Damascus Tuesday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and said afterward that Syria's government wants to resolve ongoing violence and work toward political reforms. The visit came as government forces pounded Syria's third-largest city of Homs for a fifth day.

Welcoming Lavrov

Syrian state television showed the Russian foreign minister's convoy entering Damascus amid what appeared to be large crowds greeting him, despite bad weather. The report called the turnout a “million-man welcome” for Lavrov. Opposition sources question the authenticity of the footage, claiming it was digitally altered to show more people than were actually present.

Government supporters waved Russian flags at Lavrov's convoy, while others waved pictures of Syria's embattled president. A large float of balloons representing the colors of the Russian flag drifted over the crowd in central Damascus.

Violence in Homs

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on February 6, 2012 shows what was described as shelling on the Baba Amr district of the restive city of Homs in central Syria.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on February 6, 2012 shows what was described as shelling on the Baba Amr district of the restive city of Homs in central Syria.

Meanwhile, witnesses in Homs say government troops were for a fifth day shelling parts of the city, some controlled by rebel armed forces. Videos showed smoke rising over the city, and opposition sources claim there were numerous casualties. Hundreds of people have reportedly died since the shelling began on Friday.

Following his meeting with President Assad in Damascus, the Russian foreign minister told journalists he was trying to “resolve the political crisis” in Syria, “based on the Arab League plan.”  That plan calls for a national unity government to be formed under Syria's vice president, followed by early presidential and parliamentary elections.

The Russian foreign minister also indicated that President Assad was ready to hold a “dialogue with all political forces in Syria.” He said Assad was also prepared to “put an end to violence... no matter what its source.”

United Nations resolution

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, believes that the Lavrov mission to Syria is an attempt by Moscow to "save face" after its Saturday veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Damascus.

“Russia is very embarrassed by the stand it took with regard to Syria, when they vetoed the United Nations resolution," said Khashan. "I think the reason behind the vote goes well beyond Syria. We need to understand the veto as part of the tug of war between Russia and China on one hand and the U.S. on the other. These two countries want to be included in deciding on major issues and they don't want to abandon the scene to the U.S. I believe Lavrov will be telling the Syrian regime to do something major by way of reforms to save the face of Russia, because they're quite embarrassed. But, to tell the truth, I don't expect much to come out of the visit."

Recalling ambassadors

The United States announced Monday that it has suspended operations at its embassy in Damascus and withdrawn its ambassador. France, Britain, Italy and Spain also indicated that they were recalling their ambassadors. Gulf Cooperation Council states, for their part, said that they were expelling Syria's ambassadors.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs