MOSCOW - Russia on Saturday condemned what it called "barbaric" attacks in Syria, stepping up criticism of rebels a day after an explosion authorities blamed on a suicide bomber killed at least nine people in the capital Damascus.
Russia has protected Syrian President Bashar Assad by blocking two UN Security Council resolutions condemning a crackdown in which the United Nations says 9,000 people have been killed since March 2011.
In a statement referring to attacks including the Damascus mosque blast, Russia accused opponents of the Syrian government of seeking to scuttle envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, which Moscow has backed in the UN Security Council.
"Moscow decisively condemns these barbarous acts," the foreign ministry statement said. "Attempts by the irreconcilable opposition to increase tension even more and incite violence cause particular alarm."
"(T)he aim is clear: to ruin a solution in Syria based on Annan's plan, which has begun to be implemented," it added, urging all forces inside and outside Syria to "decisively rebuff terrorists" and ensure they receive no support.