Russia won't budge on Assad: Syrian opposition

Russia won't budge on Assad: Syrian opposition

Syria's main opposition group on Wednesday failed to convince Russia to drop its support for long time ally President Bashar al-Assad, as fresh clashes in Damascus challenged his beleaguered regime.

Russia refuses to shift its controversial position on the crisis in Syria, the exiled opposition Syria National Council (SNC) said after talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"We have not seen a development in the Russian position. I was here one year ago and the position has not changed," Burhan Ghalioun, SNC executive committee member and its former chief, told reporters after the meeting.

Sixteen months into a conflict which monitors say has cost more than 17,000 lives, mostly civilians, rebel fighters and regime forces clashed in the Damascus district of Qadam, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In the commercial hub of Aleppo, at least two soldiers were killed as rebels attacked a checkpoint overnight, the Britain based watchdog said, adding that 82 people were killed in violence across Syria on Tuesday: 30 civilians, 26 soldiers and 26 rebels.

Abdel Basset Sayda, the SNC's new head, earlier compared the conflict in his country to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

"The events in Syria are not disagreements between the opposition and the government but a revolution," Sayda told Lavrov, whose country has seen itself cast as the last protector of its Arab ally, Syria.

Underlining the gulf between the SNC and Moscow, Lavrov said Russia wanted to understand in the talks if there were "prospects" of the opposition groups uniting and joining a platform for dialogue with the Syrian government.

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