Russia's Policy Risks Outbreak Of Civil War In Syria, Warns Clinton
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Thursday that Russia's continued refusal to back international action against the Syrian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad could lead to a civil war in the unrest-hit Middle East nation.
Clinton made the remarks while addressing students in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. She is currently on a whirlwind seven-day European tour that covers seven nations, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The Russians "are telling me they don't want to see a civil war. I have been telling them their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war," Clinton said. "The Syrians are not going to listen to us. They will listen maybe to the Russians, so we have to keep pushing them."
Noting that the Russians are "vociferous in their claim that they are providing a stabilizing influence" in Syria, Clinton said: "I reject that. I think they are propping up the regime at a time when we should be working on a political transition."
Earlier in the week, Russia had indicated that it will oppose any proposal tabled at the the UN Security Council (UNSC) by western nations seeking authorization for military intervention in Syria. The Russian stand comes amidst an international outrage triggered by last week's massacre of more than 100 civilians in the Syrian town of Houla.
"We have always said that we are categorically against any outside interference in the Syrian conflict because this will only exacerbate the situation for both Syria and the region as a whole," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency on Wednesday.
Separately, China also voiced opposition on Wednesday to military intervention or forced "regime change" in Syria. Earlier, China and Russia had vetoed a UN resolution endorsing an Arab League plan for Syria at the UN Security Council (UNSC) on February 4. Incidentally, the two nations had also jointly vetoed a Western resolution condemning repression in Syria in October.
The developments follow last week's massacre of some 108 people, mostly women and children, in the Syrian village of Houla. The Assad government blames Islamist militants for the massacre, but the UN human rights office said Tuesday that Syrian security forces were clearly involved in the Houla killings.
In response to the Houla massacre, many western nations, including the United States, France, Australia, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Netherlands and Switzerland, have expelled Syrian envoys to their capitals. Turkey followed suit on Wednesday.
Although the UN estimates more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the unrest against President Assad began in March 2011, the opposition claims the figure is actually closer to 11,000.
by RTT Staff Writer
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