Russia joins 'chorus of criticism' against Syria's Assad

Russia on Saturday became the first of Syrian President Bashar Assad's allies to condemn the violence that has accompanied weeks of protests in Syria.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "concerned by the heightening of tensions and signs of a confrontation that is leading to the suffering of innocent people," AFP reported.
The statement described Damascus as a "friend," but continued: "We are firmly convinced that only constructive dialogue and accelerated broad-scale political, social and economic reforms outlined by the Syrian leadership can achieve stable and democratic development," according to the report.
In addition, the statement urged both Syrian government forces and protesters "to suspend violence and continue searching for fair solutions to existing problems," AFP reported.
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