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Keep off Syria, Russian prime minister warns

By Layelle Saad | Gulfnews | Dubai | 9 Feb 2012

Russia on Wednesday warned against outside interference in Syria after more than 50 civilians were reportedly killed in the restive city of Homs on the fifth consecutive day of shelling by Syrian forces.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned the West against behaving "like a bull in a china shop", saying Syrians themselves should be allowed to decide their own fate.

"Of course, we condemn violence from whichever side it comes, but we must not behave like a bull in a china shop. We need to allow people to decide their own fate independently," Russian news agencies quoted him as saying.

Russia, along with China, last week vetoed a draft UN resolution condemning Syria's crackdown on protesters and calling for reforms. Analysts say Russia fears losing its last foothold in the region if President Bashar Al Assad's regime collapses.

The veto has fuelled the Syrian regime's massacre of its own people, according to UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay.

"The failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have fuelled the Syrian government's readiness to massacre its own people in an effort to crush dissent," she said in a statement.

Turkey, which has taken the lead along with Qatar, in condemning the Syrian regime, yesterday called for an international conference on Syria to send a "strong message of support to the Syrian people".

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said: "We definitely want to have this meeting in our region, maybe in Turkey, maybe in another country."

Aid should be sent to Syrians trapped in the city of Homs, he added.

In a phone call with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he wants the search for a solution to the Syrian crisis to continue, including within the UN Security Council.Medvedev urged "the necessity of continuing — including at the UN Security Council — a search for coordinated approaches to help the Syrians regulate the crisis themselves".

He added that this must happen "without outside interference, with complete respect for the sovereignty of Syria".



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