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Russia says Syria rebels intent on ruining peace bid

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May 2, 2012, 3:05 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

Russia on Wednesday blamed "terrorists" for recent attacks in Syria.
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MOSCOW - Russia on Wednesday blamed "terrorists" for recent attacks in Syria and accused rebels of conducting a concerted campaign to ensure U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan fails. The remarks made clear that Russia, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has relied upon as a shield against global censure and Western pressure to cede power, continues to put most of the blame for ceasefire violations on his opponents.

Russia "decisively condemns the new terrorist sorties," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, referring to bombings in Idlib and an attack on Syria's central bank on Monday.

The attacks "in essence unleashed a large-scale campaign to destabilise the situation and disrupt ... Annan's plan", it said.

"The most recent series of explosions was clearly timed to the arrival in Damascus" of Norwegian Major General Robert Mood, the commander of a U.N. monitoring mission, it said.

"We believe it is the international community's task not to allow the disruption of implementation of the U.N.-Arab League envoy's plan. For our part, we will do everything that depends on us to (ensure) violence in Syria ends as soon as possible."

Russia and China have blocked two U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning a crackdown in which the United Nations says government forces have killed more than 9,000 people since March 2011.

While publicly opposing foreign interference and particularly military intervention in Syria, Russia has vocally supported Annan's peace plan and backed it in Security Council votes.

It has urged both sides to stop violence but has put most of the blame for violations of a ceasefire that took effect April 12 on rebels and accused them of seeking to create a pretext for foreign intervention against the government.

Russia says NATO misused a U.N. resolution authorising military intervention to protect civilians in Libya to help rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year and has vowed not to let it happen in Syria.
Syria has given post-Soviet Russia its firmest foothold in the Middle East, buying billions of dollars' worth of weapons and hosting a maintenance and supply facility that is Russia's only warm-water naval port outside the former Soviet Union.
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