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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Doubts Credibility of London-based Syria Watchdog

RIA Novosti

18:54 25/02/2012 MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has doubts about the credibility of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization whose accounts of Syrian events often become a source of information for Western journalists, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.

“According to our information, only two people work for this Observatory – its head and a secretary,” the statement, published on the Foreign Ministry official website, reads.

The group, the statement said, “is headed by a certain R. Abdurahman, who does not have not only journalistic or legal background, but also a complete secondary education.”

“In a media interview in November last year, he himself said that he is a permanent London resident, has British citizenship and is involved in business activities (owns a snack shop),” it said.

Lukashevich also noted in his statement that representatives of the Observatory have declined contact requests from Russian diplomats.

“We believe that the facts stated above allow us to make conclusions regarding the credibility of information being provided by this structure,” he added.

Last week, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported that more than 8,000 people, including 590 children, had been killed in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad last March.

The United Nations estimated in January that 5,400 people had been killed in the conflict in 2011. As deadly attacks by Syrian troops on rebel strongholds continue, Syrian activists have reported hundreds of new deaths since, but overall figures cannot be independently confirmed because the Syrian government has prevented most foreign media from operating inside the country.

The Syrian authorities say more than 2,000 military and security officers have been killed in clashes with “armed terrorist gangs.”

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