Medvedev: Some Syrian Protesters “Terrorists”

Posted September 9th, 2011 at 7:16 am (UTC-5)
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has hinted that Moscow may be open to a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at sending a “strong message” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but only if it also addresses anti-government protesters.

Speaking to Euronews television on Thursday, Mr. Medvedev said the Syrian government's “disproportionate use of force” and “high toll of casualties” are unacceptable.

But he also expressed concern at the action of anti-Assad protesters, saying some of them should be considered “terrorists,” and claiming they do not advocate “refined European models of democracy.”

Russia has opposed attempts by Western governments to pass a U.N. Security resolution against Mr. Assad, instead preferring their own draft urging Syria to implement democratic reforms.

While Mr. Medvedev hinted that Russia may support a U.N.-backed message, he said he would not do so if it amounts to a “one-sided condemnation of the government and President Assad.”

On Friday, Syrian opposition leader Ammar Qurabi expressed disappointment at Russia's lack of support. Qurabi said he expects Russia to play a “more active and positive role in regulating the political situation in Syria.”

Qurabi and a delegation of Syrian opposition leaders were in Moscow Friday visiting with Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov. Mr. Margelov plans to meet with an aide to Mr. Assad on Monday.

Meanwhile, Syria's crackdown on anti-government protesters continued Thursday when troops raided a residence in the northwestern village of Ibleen, killing three military defectors.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the house belongs to the brother of Hussein Harmouche, who allegedly defected from the army in June and set up the Syrian Free Officers movement.

The state-run SANA news agency said Thursday that eight law enforcement and security force members were killed by “armed terrorist groups” in the city of Homs. Mr. Assad's government has blamed much of the deadly violence on armed gunmen and terrorists.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he has urged Syria to carry out political reforms “before it is too late.” During a speech in Australia Thursday, Mr. Ban said violence against Syrians had continued despite his repeated calls for President Assad to halt his forces' “excessive and lethal” actions.

The United Nations estimates 2,200 people have been killed since March after Mr. Assad launched the crackdown on dissent.