Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Russia slams West's stance on Syria

Russia says the West is 'openly instigating' armed opposition to Syria's President Bashar Assad

Russia has accused Western powers of "openly instigating" Syrian opposition groups to take up arms in their fight to unseat President Bashar Assad.

Moscow has been Syria's key ally throughout the 17-month uprising which has evolved into a full-blown civil war, shielding Mr Assad's regime from international sanctions and providing it with weapons despite an international outcry.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said the West "has done nothing" to urge the Syrian opposition to start a dialogue with the government. "Instead, they are engaged in openly instigating it to continue their armed struggle," it said in a statement.

It claimed that the Western approach to the Syrian civil is "hypocritical" and is not helping to resolve the conflict that has killed an estimated 19,000 people.

Russia and China, both veto-wielding UN Security Council members, have blocked proposals to call on Mr Assad to step down. Russia insists its opposition to sanctions is driven not by support for Mr Assad himself but by a respect for international law that forbids foreign military intervention in internal conflicts without UN Security Council authorisation.

Russia has called for talks between the Syrian regime and its foes. It staunchly opposes any plans that would demand Assad's ousting, saying that only the Syrian people can decide the country's fate.

In New York, UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council that the United Nations views the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria "with growing alarm". He said about 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance while the number of displaced people in Syria and the flow of refugees to neighbouring countries is growing.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who visited Syria last week, told a news conference at UN headquarters that UN agencies last month provided food for more than 820,000 people across Syria.

"But when you're talking about 2.5 million people affected, we need to do a lot more," she said.

Mr Feltman and Baroness Amos appealed for additional funds to meet the humanitarian needs of Syrians still in the country and the refugees.

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