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Gulf, EU States Recall Syria Envoys; Moscow Reaches Out To Assad

Syrians Flee Ongoing Fighting In Homsi
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February 07, 2012
Amateur videos purport to show civilians fleeing a building being shelled by government forces in Homs and smoke rising from residential areas of the flashpoint city. The videos, reportedly shot on February 6 and 7, were provided to AP by the antiregime group Shaam News Network (ShaamSNN) and Ugarit News. AP video

Amateur video footage purporting to show civilians fleeing a building being shelled in Homs and smoke rising from residential areas of the flashpoint city. The videos, reportedly shot on February 6 and 7, were provided to AP by the antiregime group Shaam

Major European states and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have announced they are withdrawing their ambassadors from Syria as the death toll continues to rise in violence between Syrian government forces and government opponents.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council announced it also will expel envoys from the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A council statement condemned "mass slaughter against the unarmed Syrian people."

Italy, France, Spain, and the Netherlands also announced that they are recalling their ambassadors to Syria, following similar announcements on February 6 by the United States and Britain.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the move was a "message" to Damascus.

"It's a message we are also sending to the regime of Damascus to express our condemnation of what is going on on the ground," Valero said.

Meanwhile, German authorities announced that they had arrested two men on suspicion they were spying on Syrian opposition groups in Germany.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, meanwhile slammed efforts to "poison" relations between his country and the Arab world after Russia's veto of the UN Security Council resolution on the Syria crisis. At a news conference at the UN in New York, Churkin implied that Western ambassadors were seeking to create hostility between Russia and Arab countries.

"The very exaggerated, emotional, and sometime rude reaction from our Western colleagues -- well, they may have their purposes in mind, but I think the side effect or maybe purpose of those reactions is to create some hostility toward Russia in the Arab world," Churkin said. "And that, of course, is not appreciated."

Moscow Mission

The moves came with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Damascus for talks with Assad aimed at ending the 11-month conflict between antigovernment militants and Syrian security forces.

Lavrov said Assad was committed to ending the violence in his country and would soon announce a timetable for a national referendum on constitutional reforms.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Damascus on February 7.Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Damascus on February 7.
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Damascus on February 7.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (left) welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Damascus on February 7.

Lavrov added that Assad gave assurances that he was prepared for talks with all political forces in Syria. Earlier in the week, Moscow offered to host talks between the Syrian government and opposition forces. That offer was accepted by Damascus but rejected by the opposition, which views Moscow as an ally of Assad's.

For his part, Lavrov expressed Moscow's readiness to help resolve the crisis in Syria on the basis of "the positions laid out in the Arab League initiative."

"We have confirmed our readiness to help in every way to end the crisis as soon as possible on the basis of the positions contained in the initiative of the League of Arab States that was put forward on the 2nd of November," Lavrov said. "Specifically as provided for by the above-mentioned initiative, the president of Syria assured us that he is fully committed to the task of stopping violence wherever it may come from."

On February 4, Russia and China vetoed a proposed UN Security Council resolution drafted by the Arab League that called on Assad to step down.

Despite Assad's pledge to end the violence, the Syrian Interior Ministry said it would continue engaging "terrorist groups" in and around the city of Homs until security is restored.

Syrian activists say around 100 civilians were killed in the Homs area on February 6. That information could not be independently verified.

The Syrian Interior Ministry statement said six security troops have been killed and 11 wounded in the Homs operation.

New Moves Afoot

In Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said he is working on a new initiative on the Syrian crisis together with "those countries who stand by the Syrian people, not the regime."
A video grab shows the funeral of people killed in Maaret al-Noman in the flashpoint northern Idlib province.A video grab shows the funeral of people killed in Maaret al-Noman in the flashpoint northern Idlib province.
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A video grab shows the funeral of people killed in Maaret al-Noman in the flashpoint northern Idlib province.
A video grab shows the funeral of people killed in Maaret al-Noman in the flashpoint northern Idlib province.

The European Union continued talks on possible new sanctions against Syria's central bank.

"There is a long way to go yet, but we're looking at economic measures which will tighten further the Syrian regime's access to sources of finance," an unnamed EU official was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

A spokesman for the 27-member European Union said the bloc has no plans to withdraw the head of its delegation in Damascus, saying it must maintain a presence to monitor developments.

The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

Compiled from agency reports
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jan from: Praha
February 07, 2012 18:08
It only the Russian bla bla bla. Russia is no more the big player in the international policy. The only solution is the attack against the Syrian army and Syrian regime.
In Response

by: Frank
February 08, 2012 00:24
A better "solution" is to stay TF out of there, seeing how Western interventions lead to great deaths (Iraq and Afghanistan) and the repackaging of goons (as is evident in Kosovo).

by: Jack from: US
February 07, 2012 19:26
it is by itself remarkable that the strongest criticism of Assad comes from most oppressive and fundamentalist regimes on the planet: Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, and NATO which is allied with Wahhabi Sunni terror-sponsoring regimes
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
February 07, 2012 20:34
I guess Jack has missed the fact that real terror sponsoring states such as Syria and Iran are supplied by Russia, as well as actual terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hizbolla, Islamic Jihad etc.

Still he is an Armenian, and a willing slave to the country that committed the worst crimes of the 20th century, Russia
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 08, 2012 09:14
Jack is an Armenian now? Just yesterday I read in Vakhtang's comments that Jack was supposed to be based "in the area of Leningrad" :-))... Jack (Manoussian :-))?), what is your real identity, please disclose it :-))))))!
In other news, gringos and their stooges in the bankrupt European NATO "allies" and in the most democratic countries of the Middle East (I mean, place like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where human rights are stricktly respected :-) just continue talking and talking and talking about the situation in Syria. No wonder: what else can they possibly do about it :-)?

by: Obsever from: Canada
February 07, 2012 23:25
What Russia try to do is too late.The fire is too hot now no ways Russia can remediate with the opposition in Syria at this stage to save Assad,He is finished in counting days . Russia should of known what would happen to Assad since the beginning of the up rising, Assad Regime thinks with his arms force can destroy any up rising like his father did before that is a big mistake and it will costs him every things...thirty years after syria was not the same as 1980 ..After one by one felt down in The storm of Arab spring , It seem to be the only one who has an affection to his peoples and probaly a smartest one is Shaled the ex leader of Yenmen.As for Russia has to paint their face blue again..It is too sad for Russian peoples.

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