West, Russia Trade Words Over Syria
July 26, 2012
Russia and Western powers have sparred verbally over Syria as both sides accused the other of impeding efforts to end the conflict in the country.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, visiting Warsaw, slammed Moscow and China for opposing UN draft resolutions to end the fighting in Syria/
"You know there are two countries and we should name them, Russia and China, who opposed resolutions aimed at stopping the fighting," he said. "We maintain our position and we hope that finally they will hear the cries which come not only from Syria, but from everywhere in the Arab world and everywhere in the world, asking for an end to this bloodbath."
But in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused western powers of supporting the Syrian opposition and thus prolonging the conflict.
"We propose things that could immediately stop the violence [in Syria]," he said. "Another side says no -- either the regime capitulates, or we will continue our support, with money and other means, for the military opposition. They justify terrorist attacks. This is the most important thing. And while this support continues, what humanitarian actions can you talk about?"
Meanwhile, Iran said on July 26 that it will continue to stand by its ally Syria.
Iran's Press TV quoted first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying that Tehran's support for Syria is "unchangeable."
The verbal sparring comes as fighting between government forces and rebels intensified in Syria's second city, Aleppo.
Activists report that Syrian forces used attack helicopters and fighter jets on July 26 to strafe opposition targets in the city and conducted artillery bombardments of several neighborhoods.
Rebels claim their forces now control half of Aleppo after six days of fighting. No independent confirmation of that claim is available.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting and shelling in Aleppo killed 26 people on July 25, including many children.
Last week, Syrian troops used a similar combination of artillery bombardments and overwhelming ground force to quash the rebel assault on Damascus.
However, even though the government forces far outgun the rebels, it took them a week to get the assault in Damascus under control -- a sign that the opposition's capabilities may be improving.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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