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Russia: Syrian Opposition 'Obsession' Hinders Peace

In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 photo, a sniper takes position on a roof during combat in the neighborhood of Saif Al-Dawlah in Aleppo, Syria.
Russia is criticizing the Syrian opposition for its push to oust President Bashar al-Assad from power, saying the demand hinders efforts to halt the country's violence.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday called the opposition's desire to overthrow Assad an "obsession." He said as long as the demand is in place, fighting will continue and "people will die."

Russia has resisted international efforts to pressure Assad. It has vetoed, along with China, three United Nations Security Council resolutions that could have led to sanctions against the Syrian government.

Lavrov also said there is no plan for a large-scale evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria.

Two planes arrived in Moscow from Lebanon on Wednesday, carrying 77 Russians fleeing the violence in Syria. Most are women who married Syrians, as well as their children.

There are tens of thousands of Russian nationals living in Syria.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday the evacuation "speaks to the continued deterioration of the security situation" and the violence that Assad is leading against the Syrian people.

The United Nations says at least 60,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011.