Syrian opposition blames Russia for `suffering`

A prominent Syrian opposition leader said that Russia`s resistance to intervene in the conflict was bringing misery and "suffering" to the country.

Last Updated: Jul 11, 2012, 22:28 PM IST

Moscow: A prominent Syrian opposition leader on Wednesday said that Russia`s resistance to international intervention in the conflict was bringing misery and "suffering" to the violence-torn country.

Two Syrian opposition delegations visited Moscow this week, raising hopes that Russia could be pushed to accept the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad. But Syrian National Council head Abdelbaset Sieda said he saw "no change" in Moscow`s stance after meeting with officials including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"The Syrian people are suffering because of Russia, because of the position it has taken, because of its veto in the UN Security Council," Sieda said at a news conference. "The current regime uses Russian weapons against its own people."

More than 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, according to Syrian activists. Russia says its current arms contracts with Syria do not include weapons that could be used against civilians.

Sieda called for intervention by the UN and said no dialogue with the regime was possible until Assad was ousted. Both those demands are in sharp contrast to Russia`s position. Russia strongly opposes international intervention and says that if Assad goes, it must be as the result of dialogue.

Russia and China have twice blocked UN condemnation of Syria`s government and worked to water down UN plans for a transition at a conference in Geneva last month.

At the conference, Russia insisted that any political transition have the "mutual consent" of both Assad`s government and the opposition, essentially handing a veto on the peacemaking process to both sides.

Lavrov today repeated Russia`s support for non-intervention, and insisted that any solution would have to be decided by "Syrians themselves," and not by any foreign power.