Russia accuses Libya of training Syrian rebels

Moscow's UN envoy tells Security Council: The export of revolution turning into the export of terrorism."

By REUTERS
March 8, 2012 00:50
1 minute read.
Libyan Military Training Exercise [file]

Libyan Military Training Exercise 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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UNITED NATIONS - Russia accused Libya during a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday of running a training center for Syrian rebels and arming the fighters in their battle to overthrow the country's President Bashar Assad.

"We have received information that in Libya, with the support of the authorities, there is a special training center for the Syrian revolutionaries and people are sent to Syria to attack the legal government," Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the UN Security Council.

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"This is completely unacceptable ... This activity is undermining stability in the Middle East," said Churkin, who also questioned whether "the export of revolution" was "turning into the export of terrorism."

In Syria, security forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians during an 11-month crackdown on pro-democracy protests, according to the United Nations, and the outside world has proved powerless to halt the killing. Russia and China have twice used vetoes to block action by the UN Security Council.

Pro-democracy protests in the region, dubbed the Arab Spring, have toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Russia, which is Syria's main arms supplier and has use of a naval base there, has also repeatedly voiced anger over NATO air strikes that helped Libyan rebels drive Muammar Gaddafi from power last year and on Wednesday Churkin demanded that NATO recognize it caused civilian casualties and pay compensation.

Rights groups have said several dozen civilians were killed by NATO air strikes in Libya.

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While Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib did not respond to Churkin's accusation that Libya was training Syrian rebels, he told the UN Security Council that Libya has already investigated the deaths of all civilians during the fighting.

"I hope that the reason for raising this matter will not be to impede or prevent the international community from interfering in the situation of other states where their peoples are being massacred and killed at the hands of their rulers," Keib said.

Libya said last month that it would donate $100 million in humanitarian aid to the Syrian opposition and allow them to open an office in Tripoli.

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