Russia accuses West of arming Syrian rebels

MOSCOW - Russia said on Friday that the West was stoking the conflict in Syria by sending weapons to the opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In an attempt to deflect criticism of Russia for blocking a UN Security Council resolution urging Assad to give up power, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Western states were stirring up trouble in Syria, where Assad has pursued a violent crackdown since March on protests against his 11-year rule.

"Western states inciting Syrian opposition to uncompromising actions, as well as those sending arms to them, giving them advice and direction, are participating in the process of fomenting the crisis," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.

He did not specify which nations were arming Syrian rebels.

On Sunday Russia and China vetoed a Western-Arab draft UN resolution that called on Assad to quit. That drew US and European criticism which Russia dismissed as hysterical....

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