Russia's foreign minister warned other nations again
Wednesday not to arm the Syrian opposition, saying it would only
Speaking on a trip to
Azerbaijan, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Syrian opposition
wouldn't be able to overwhelm government forces even if it was supplied
with weapons from abroad. He warned that a foreign military intervention
would lead to even more disastrous consequences for Syria, which has
seen a yearlong uprising against President Bashar Assad that has killed
more than 9,000 people.
"Even if they arm the
Syrian opposition to the teeth, it won't be able to defeat the Syrian
army," Lavrov said. "The carnage will go on for many years."
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two Sunni-ruled nations, have
backed the idea of arming the opposition against Assad's Shiite-ruled
government, but the West remains opposed. Western nations moved instead
to create a fund for the rebels at a meeting in Istanbul.
Russia, along with China, has twice shielded Assad from United
Nations sanctions over his bloody crackdown on dissent. But Moscow also
has strongly supported UN envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, which gives
an April 10 deadline for Syrian troops to pull out of towns and cities.
Lavrov reaffirmed that Assad needs to take the first
step to end bloodshed, but all international players need to back
He criticized Sunday's
meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" in Istanbul, saying it
sent signals to the opposition that would undermine Annan's plan.
"All that would undermine efforts to end violence," he
said. "They want to solve the Syrian problem with the opposition only,
but it's impossible to settle the situation like that. There must be a
dialogue of all the parties involved."
Lavrov added that Moscow will host two separate delegations of Syrian rebels for talks in the next few days. (nvn)