The situation in Syria has come close to a wide-scale civil war. Kofi Annan’s peace plan is not being implemented war. Such assessments were made at the United Nations after a new bloody massacre near Hama and the opposition’s opting out of the Armistice Agreement. Despite that Moscow calls for saving the UN-backed settlement plan for Syria and for working out a mechanism for the fulfillment of this plan at a new international conference.
The first details of the civilian massacre that occurred on June 6th in two villages near Hama in Syria, where nearly 100 people were killed, became known late this week. Out of these 100 every second victim was a woman or a child, who were either slaughtered or burnt.
The UN Observer Mission members have finally visited the Village of Al-Kubeir. Earlier the Syrian army banned their entry into the village. They even came under fire but who the gunmen were is not known yet. There were no residents in the village – therefore, the attempt to speak at least with one of them ended in failure. The tracks of armoured vehicles were discovered there, and some houses were damaged by missiles, grenades and shots.
Meanwhile, the UN observers remain unaware of the reason for that massacre and the exact number of victims. The opposition Syrian National Council will make Damascus responsible for this crime. Both the West and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced their accusations too.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called that massacre a provocation aimed at wrecking Kofi Annan’s plan for Syria settlement, and an expert with the Institute for Strategic Assessment and Analysis, Sergei Demidenko, said that such mass killings were the last thing that Bashar Assad could wish for.
An analyst from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Sotnikov, has a similar opinion.
"The government forces are not responsible for the Hama massacre. What occurred was an attempt of opposition elements, which have contacts with the Islamist groups and Al Qaeda, to aggravate the situation in the country. Such massacres prepare the ground for a foreign intervention in Syria that could prove helpful in ousting the regime of Bashar Assad."
Calls for a military intervention in Syria were heard again immediately after the bloody drama near Hama. Answering all those who would welcome such a scenario, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:
"The parties involved in the Syrian conflict, including foreign opposition and the Syrian National Council do not want to sit down at the negotiating table with Bashar Assad. They are ready to continue the armed struggle until the UN Security Council gives a mandate for a foreign intervention in Syria. I guarantee that it won’t give such a mandate."
And as regards ordinary Syrians, they do not want to welcome foreign soldiers to their country, the coordinator of the Syrian humanitarian project “The Price of Freedom” Ibrahim Naovaf said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
"More than 80 per cent of the Syrian citizens support the President. Why? The people take into account continued terrorist attacks and terrorists who are building the so-called democracy on their blood. People defend themselves because neither soldiers nor security forces can assume responsibility for the country. Terrorists organize sudden attacks. They can mine a car and escape, and civilians may die in the explosion."
In order to persuade the armed opposition to enter into dialogue with the authorities, Moscow has called for the convocation of an international conference on Syria as soon as possible. Among its possible participants are countries having influence on both sides in the conflict. Moscow believes that on that list are the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and also Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran, and besides, international organizations, including the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the European Union (EU), and the United Nations, because Moscow proposes to do that under the UN auspices.
Russia is ready to start a dialogue in this format in Moscow or Geneva, or in any other place which would be approved by all its potential participants. The main thing is to reach agreement in using their political influence on Damascus and on various opposition groups obliging them to observe the cease-fire regime. And the next step will be to establish a dialogue between them.