Middle East

Russia 'out of step' with history: Syrian opposition

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a news conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, not pictured, in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: Syria's main opposition National Coalition said on Saturday that Russia was "out of step" with history for backing President Bashar al-Assad's regime and was isolating itself on the international scene.

"Russia is keeping up a foreign policy that only looks at things from a narrow military perspective, and which does not understand the profound historic changes caused by the Arab Spring," the Coalition said.

Its statement came three days after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Friends of Syria grouping of countries opposed to Assad's rule that was to meet on Saturday in Istanbul was undermining dialogue.

"The fact that Russia is opposed to the Syrians' aspirations for freedom and democracy ... once again proves that the Russian administration is out of step with history," the Coalition said.

"While Russia isolates itself from the Friends of Syria, which brings together more than 100 countries... it is isolating itself from the international community and opposing values of freedom, justice, equality and fundamental human rights."

Moscow is one of Assad's few remaining backers. It frequently provides the regime with military and other assistance, though it says it opposes foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict.

Along with China, Russia has blocked several UN Security Council draft resolutions threatening sanctions against Assad's regime.

Meeting in Istanbul, the Friends of Syria group will reiterate its support for the opposition, which has called for direct military support. The West fears that weapons could land in the hands of extremists if they armed the rebels.





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