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Russia refuses to condemn Syria

By Shaun Walker

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus yesterday in a desperate bid to rescue his peace plan for Syria.

But hopes of a united international front were dashed when Russia refused to unequivocally condemn Bashar al-Assad's regime for the Houla massacre.

As Mr Annan held talks with the Syrian President, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, sat through a tense Press conference in Moscow in which his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov insisted that all sides shared the blame for the massacres of the past days.

Russia's backing of a UN Security Council statement condemning the deaths on Friday of more than 100 civilians in Houla had raised hopes that Moscow may finally put real pressure on Mr Assad's regime.

Mr Lavrov conceded that government forces bore the main responsibility for the massacre, but insisted the opposition was also involved, and suggested that recent bombings in Syria bore “all the hallmarks of al-Qaida”.

Belfast Telegraph


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