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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid