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Russia Says Foreign Troops Will Not Deploy in Syria - Voice of America

Written By Ivan Kolev on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | 4:36 PM

Syrian ally Russia says it will not allow the deployment of foreign troops in Syria, as the U.N. Security Council debates how to stop the bloodshed of the 10-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that if someone wants to use force, such a move will not be done with any authorization from the U.N. Security Council.

His comments come a day after senior diplomats from the Security Council met to discuss a revised Russian draft resolution that assigns equal blame for the violence to the government and opposition.  France, Britain and the U.S. are pushing for strong condemnation of Syria, but Russia and China have blocked such measures.

Syria on Tuesday rejected a Qatari proposal to send Arab troops to the country to stop the unrest, saying such a move would worsen the situation and open the door to foreign interference.  Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani proposed the troop deployment last week, saying it is needed to "stop the killing."

U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday condemned Syria's continued crackdown on protesters, calling the violence "unacceptable" and vowing to redouble international efforts to force Mr. Assad to step down.

The Syrian-based activist group Local Coordination Committees said Assad's security forces on Tuesday killed at least 30 people, 19 of them in the troubled central province of Homs.

The Arab League is due to discuss the crisis in Syria on Saturday and Sunday, and is expected to consider the future of its widely criticized observer mission in the country.

Syria is Moscow's chief ally in the region and one of its biggest arms customers. A Russian-operated ship carrying ammunition allegedly docked in Syria last week. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said Tuesday an arms embargo against Damascus is "overdue."

"Obviously we’d have very grave concern about arms flows into Syria from any source and we would certainly make that point very directly with any country that may be providing such arms," said Rice. "Unfortunately, there is not an arms embargo against Syria, which we certainly think is overdue, in part because as you well know, some members of the Council, including Russia, have indicated opposition to any form of sanction, even those that mirror that [which] the Arab League has already implemented."

Senior U.S. officials say Iran also is supplying weapons to aid Syria's crackdown in an initiative spearheaded by the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds force.

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people, including 400 in the last three weeks. Syria says "terrorists" have killed about 2,000 members of the security forces since the unrest began.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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