By Julian Pecquet - 06/03/13 11:52 PM EDT
“Russia – along with responsible members of the international community – must speak out against the killing of civilians that is taking place in Qusayr. We call upon the Syrian government to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access to impartial humanitarian actors, including UN agencies.”
The comments come as Bashar Assad's armed forces are rolling back rebel forces in the western half of the country. Russia said Monday the Syria army should be allowed to wrap up its operation, confirming once again that the United States and Russia are on opposite sides of the two-year-old conflict that has left some 80,000 people dead.
“The proposal that the international community should raise its voice at a time when the Syrian army is finishing a counter-terrorist operation against insurgents who have been terrorizing the population of the border-lying Syrian town for several months can hardly be called timely,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said, according to the ITAR-TASS press agency.
The dueling comments come as Russia and the United States are working together to set up peace talks between the Assad regime and the opposition under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva. They follow news that Russia intends to deliver advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that he talked to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday and that his counterpart “remains deeply committed to trying to make this conference happen, as do all of the support group of the people involved with the opposition.
“But I will say that the possibility of the transfer of S-300s, which will upset the balance of power with Israel as well as the prosecution of this lopsided military initiative in Qusayr and the trapping of civilians and the treatment of civilians, could put this kind of thing at risk. So we hope people will pull back and stay focused on the possibilities of implementing Geneva 1 and having a legitimate conference.”
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