World should urge Syrian opposition to stop violence, Lavrov says

AFP , Thursday 17 Nov 2011

Moscow calls for an end to violence in Syria, but includes those rising up against the Assad regime

Russia said the world community should call on all sides in Syria including the opposition to stop violence, saying the Arab League's recent peace plan for Syria should be made more "concrete."

"The Arab League's position on the necessity to stop violence -- irrespective from where it comes -- needs to be made detailed and more concrete," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

"For the realisation of the Arab League initiative, we propose that all the states that are concerned about the peaceful resolution of the events in Syria call not only on the Syrian authorities to stop violence but also all opposition groups, without exception."

"This should be done both on behalf of the Arab League and those countries whose territory the opposition is working from," Lavrov said.

Moscow, a key ally of Damascus from Soviet times, has refused to back Western calls for sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and repeatedly blamed the Syrian opposition for the unrest in the country.

"There are more and more weapons that are being smuggled in from neighbouring countries," Lavrov said.

"Today I saw a television report about some new so-called rebel Free Syrian Army organising an attack on the government building, on the building belonging to Syria's armed forces," he told reporters.

"This was quite similar to a true civil war."

Syrian army defectors known as the Free Syrian Army attacked a military intelligence base just outside Damascus on Wednesday in one of the most daring raids by the opposition in eight months of unrest.

Lavrov told reporters earlier this week that arms were smuggled into Syria from Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and "obviously other countries."

"No-one disputes these facts although few comment on them," he said. "Armed extremists are using peaceful protesters."

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