Russian Foreign Minister blames Syrian opposition for deadlock

 

Russia's foreign minister declared a deadlock on Saturday in the latest efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis, blaming the Syrian opposition for refusing to negotiate with the government and reiterating that Moscow will not force President Bashar Assad to leave.

Sergei Lavrov met here earlier with Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, and though both men warned that the conflict poses an increasing danger to the entire Middle East, they offered no hope of a breakthrough.

"As concerns Bashar Assad, he repeatedly said, publicly and privately — including during a recent meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus — that he is not going to go anywhere, that he will stay until the end and, as he put it, defend the Syrian people, Syria's sovereignty and so on," Lavrov said at a news conference with Brahimi.

Lavrov added that Russia could not persuade Assad to leave even if it wanted to.

Brahimi said Syria faces a choice between a political solution and a descent into "hell." He also warned that the sectarian conflict that has engulfed the country has the potential to spread to its neighbors.

"If you have 1 million people leaving Damascus in a panic, they can go to only two places — Lebanon and Jordan," he said, noting that such an influx would create an unsupportable burden for those countries.

The only alternative, he said, was a political agreement within Syria. "All of us have got to work ceaselessly for a political process," he said.

Brahimi has proposed the creation of a national unity government, but the opposition has insisted that Assad himself cannot take part in it. That means, Lavrov said, that the opposition is to blame for the continuing violence.

He repeated Russia's insistence that a political solution had to be achieved by the Syrians themselves, without outside participation. He also faulted the opposition, which on Friday turned down an invitation to visit Moscow, for thwarting an end to the conflict.

"We are sure that this is a deadlock position, which will continue to degrade," he said.

Lavrov rebuked Mouaz al-Khatib, leader of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, for rejecting the invitation and demanding that Russia apologize for supporting Assad.

"It was quite a surprise to me to read his statement that he was willing to meet with me only if we change our position and if we apologize for our position publicly," Lavrov said.

Lavrov also emphasized Russia's opposition to armed intervention in Syria, and insisted once again that Moscow has not been shipping arms to Assad. Russia, he said, favors the revival of an agreement struck in Geneva in June supporting a transitional government that would rule until elections could be held.

The comments by Brahimi and Lavrov came on a particularly bloody day in Syria, with at least 364 people killed, according to the Local Coordination Committees network.

The Syrian military "field-executed" up to 220 people in the Deir Baalba neighborhood of the central city of Homs, the group said in a statement. At least 35 people were also reported killed in Aleppo province amid shelling and airstrikes.

A video posted online Saturday shows the body of a child being dug out of rubble in Azaz, near the Turkish border. A second video shows a man carrying the child's body as a group of men gather and shout, "God is great!"

The official Syrian Arab News Agency also reported the military attacks across the country, noting that a number of "terrorists" had been killed and that heavy weapons had been confiscated. Government-run media in Syria often refer to rebel forces as terrorists.

---

Special correspondent Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut contributed to this report.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable