Russia urges Syria truce, says rebels share blame

February 24, 2012 16:32


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MOSCOW - Russia called on Friday for an urgent ceasefire in the Syrian city of Homs and urged both the government and "armed groups" to cooperate with humanitarian relief efforts by a UN envoy and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Foreign Ministry expressed "serious concern" about violence in Homs and other Syrian cities and said it must end, but maintained Moscow's position that both sides were responsible for the bloodshed, not only Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.Russia also said humanitarian relief must not lead to military interference, which it opposes, and reiterated criticism of a "Friends of Syria" meeting of Western and Arab states in Tunisia that Russia says is not sufficiently inclusive.

Syrian government forces have been bombarding the opposition stronghold of Homs, almost a year into a revolt against Assad that has left thousands dead.

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement roughly echoed a draft declaration at the Tunis meeting, which urged Syria to cease all violence immediately, but it repeated Russia's calls on the West and Arabs to pressure Assad's opponents to stop fighting.

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