Russia accuses Syrian rebels of using “tactics of terror”

* Russia puts accent on rebel violations

* Says fighting has decreased substantially

* Criticises EU sanctions as counterproductive


By Thomas Grove and Steve Gutterman, Reuters

MOSCOW, April 26 (Reuters) – Russia accused Syrian rebels on Thursday of using terror tactics and suggested they were more to blame for ceasefire violations than President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.

The remarks by the foreign ministry differed from assessments by Western states which have been calling on government forces to end attacks and withdraw from cities and towns under a U.N.-backed truce.

“We call upon the Syrian side to carry out in full its obligations…” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a weekly briefing. “Nonetheless … there is another side in Syria, opposition groups, which have in essence shifted to tactics of terror on a regional scale.”

Lukashevich listed several rebel attacks and accused foreign states of arming the rebels.

“Many Western governments, and not just Western … are helping the Syrian opposition with weapons and financing, and this makes a political resolution of the situation significantly more difficult,” Lukashevich said.

Lukashevich said the truce was “very, very fragile” but his tone contrasted with the urgency conveyed by Western nations and by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who called the situation “unacceptable” on Tuesday.

France, leading Western calls for tougher action against Assad, says it planned to push next month for a “Chapter 7” U.N. Security Council resolution if his forces did not pull back.

Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter allows the Council to authorise actions that can include the use of military force – something Russia opposes.

Moscow says NATO misused a U.N. resolution authorising military intervention to protect civilians in Libya to help rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year and has vowed not to let it happen in Syria.

Lukashevich did not discuss the possibility of a new U.N. resolution but said sanctions adopted by the European Union on Monday were counterproductive and that global powers should focus on implementing a peace plan.

Russia has blocked two U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Assad’s government for a crackdown in which the United Nations says his forces have killed more than 9,000 people since March 2011.

Syria has given post-Soviet Russia its firmest foothold in the Middle East, buying billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and hosting a maintenance and supply facility that is Russia’s only warm-water naval port outside the former Soviet Union.

(Reporting by Thomas Grove; Writing by Steve Gutterman)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s