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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid