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Russian Foreign Minister Likens Syria Crisis To Civil War

Alleged army defectors say they will try to protect civilians and attack Syrian security forces in this still image taken from amateur video footage shot near Damascus on November 16.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the crisis in Syria is beginning to resemble a civil war after army defectors attacked a military base near Damascus.

Lavrov said the world community should call on all sides in Syria, including the opposition, to stop the violence.

On November 16, defected soldiers attacked an army base near the capital in what was the most daring action by the opposition since protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began eight months ago.

Russia and China have blocked Western nations' attempts to push through a UN Security Council resolution condemning Assad's regime over its crackdown.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people are believed to have been killed in the crackdown since antiregime protests began in mid-March.

On November 16, the Arab League formally suspended Syria and gave the government three days to end "the bloody repression" and allow in a team of observers.

The Arab League said Syria faces sanctions if it did not cooperate.

compiled from agency reports