Syrian Opposition Denies Targeting Russians
DUBAI, December 20 (RIA Novosti) - Syria's opposition coalition on Thursday denied it has declared "open season" on Russian nationals.
It denied ever declaring "any Russian citizen a target" of the Syrian revolution for supporting Assad's government.
"Such declarations do not reflect the opinion or policy of the Coalition, and are in conflict with the principles and goals of the Syrian Revolution," the opposition coalition said in a statement sent to RIA Novosti.
"While condemning the Russian government's policy and position on political and military support for [President Bashar] Assad's regime, the National Coalition states unequivocally that the Russian leadership alone bears the entire responsibility for its actions and Russian citizens are not to blame for that," it said.
"As the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, the Coalition condemns any attacks on innocent civilians regardless of their nationality," the statement said.
On Wednesday, Haitham al-Maleh, a prominent leader of the Syrian opposition abroad, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that Russians are a "legitimate" target for Syrian militants since Russia supports President Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday confirmed media reports that two Russians and an Italian had been abducted near the western Syrian port city of Latakia as they were travelling along the Tartus-Homs highway.
All three worked for the Hmisho steel company's plant near Homs, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the company had received a telephone demand from unidentified individuals for payment as a condition for their release.
According to Kommersant, the hostages were abducted by one of the Syrian opposition groups who demanded a ransom of over $700,000 for their release.
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