Russia warns the West not to arm Syria's rebel fighters


Alastair Beach
Thursday 05 April 2012 08:50 BST

Russia yesterday claimed the West was undermining the work of international peace envoy Kofi Annan, warning Britain and her allies not to arm Syria's rebels as a deadline for implementing an international peace plan approaches.

Moscow's Foreign Minister claimed that even if Western nations decided to "arm the Syrian opposition to the teeth", rebel fighters would be powerless to vanquish the better armed and still largely loyal national army. "The carnage will go on for many years," warned Sergey Lavrov.

His comments came as yet more civilians were killed by shellfire and gun battles across the country, with President Bashar al-Assad refusing so far to abide by the terms of Mr Annan's peace initiative and withdraw his tanks and troops from besieged towns, despite promising to accede to the terms of a ceasefire proposed by the former UN Secretary General.

Heavy machine gun fire was heard across the old city of Homs yesterday, while according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a man, 50, and his younger brother were killed in the north west Idlib province when soldiers opened fire on their car from a tank.

Russia's criticism followed an announcement this week from "Friends of Syria" group of Western and Arab nations that they would be creating a fund for the Syrian opposition.

n A former goalkeeper for the Syrian national team has said that athletes from his country do not want to compete in this year's London Olympics because they "don't want to play for a flag they have no pride or faith in". In an interview with ITV News, Abdelbasset Saroot, 20, spoke out against the ongoing violence in Syria, and said that many competitors are taking part only because they fear repercussions if they refuse.

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