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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow Sees Shift in Western Stance on Syria Opposition

RIA Novosti

10:27 08/11/2012 MOSCOW, November 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia believes the West is reviewing its approach toward the Syrian opposition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview published on Thursday.

“I have the impression that over the past couple of weeks the Western stance on the Syrian opposition has been changing noticeably,” he said in an interview with RIA Novosti, the daily Moskovskiye Novosti and the journal Russia in Global Affairs.

“On the one hand, there is disappointment over the failure to unite them,” he said. “On the other, I believe there is a growing concern that forces totally different from those [the West] gambled on at the outset are beginning to prevail.”

Moscow believes it is crucial to unite the opposition around the Geneva communiqué. So far, attempts have been made to unite it over “a platform of the relentless struggle against Assad to the victorious end, and that is wrong,” Lavrov said.

Russia is continuing its unification efforts, meeting with representatives of the diverse opposition groupings to promote the idea of dialogue with the Syrian government, he said. Although at this stage most hold to the line that negotiations with Assad are out of the question, Moscow continues to work to influence their position, he said.

The Assad regime has been locked in a bloody conflict with anti-government rebel forces since March 2011. According to UN estimates, around 35,000 people have been killed since the violence began.

Russia and the West, particularly the United States, have traded accusations over their respective roles in the conflict. The United States has called for Assad’s ouster and has criticized Russia for allegedly enabling Assad’s violent crackdown by supplying arms to Damascus.

Russia, meanwhile, has slammed the United States’ tacit support of the anti-Assad opposition, claiming it is interfering in the domestic affairs of a foreign state. Russia and China have voted down three attempts by Western powers to impose international sanctions on Assad’s regime. Moscow said the proposed resolutions betray an pro-rebel bias and would do nothing to bring peace to the Middle East country.

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