- US Must Choose: Back Syria Conference or Rebels – Russia
- Russia to Issue Separate Statement on Chemical Weapons in Syria
- Friends of Syria Group ‘Encourages Extremists’ - Moscow
- Friends of Syria Recognize Opposition Coalition
MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow on Monday strongly condemned the decision by Western and Arab nations in the Friends of Syria group to supply weapons to the rebel forces fighting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.
These plans are “completely at odds” with the goal of a political settlement in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Monday the decision will do nothing to resolve the conflict and only lead to more bloodshed and violence.
Ministers from the 11 main countries in the group agreed on Saturday "to provide urgently all the necessary material and equipment to the opposition on the ground," they said in a statement following talks in Qatar. The participant nations will each deliver supplies and support to the rebels independently as they see fit, the group said, but all assistance will be channeled through the Free Syrian Army headed by General Salim Idriss.
The group includes Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and Turkey.
Despite Friends of Syria opting to supply arms to the rebels, it still supports the holding of an international peace conference in Geneva in September to help resolve the conflict, it said in a statement on Saturday.
The United States said last week that Syria had crossed a red line by using chemical weapons in the conflict, in which over 93,000 people have now died according to the latest UN figures. Syria denied using chemical weapons.
Russia has consistently opposed allowing arms to reach the rebels, claiming they could fall into the hands of extremists and terrorists.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.