Pro-democracy activists in Syria have called for a “day of anger” on Tuesday to protest Russia’s backing for President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has waged a deadly six-month crackdown on protesters.
Security forces, meanwhile, killed three people in Syria on Monday, including a 12-year-old boy at a funeral, as the United Nations said 2,600 people have died since the pro-reform protests erupted in the country.
“Do not support the killers. Do not kill the Syrians with your position” in favor of the regime, the activists urged Russia in a posting on The Syrian Revolution 2011, a Facebook page that has been the engine for the revolt.
They wrote that a “day of anger” against Russia would be held on Tuesday with demonstrations across the country.
“We express our anger towards Russia and the Russian government. The regime will disappear, but the people will live,” the posting said.
Russia has blocked attempts by the United Nations to sanction Assad’s regime and is promoting a separate draft resolution that simply calls on the government and the opposition to open direct talks.
On Monday, Assad’s media adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told the Russian upper house of parliament’s foreign affairs chief Mikhail Margelov that Syria favoured the cautious reform process seen in Russia since the Soviet Union’s collapse.
“We want things in Syria to develop the way they did in Russia, in a bloodless manner,” Shaaban said in Moscow Monday.
Also Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron it would be a mistake to put more pressure on Syria’s regime.
Medvedev told reporters after talks with Cameron that any punitive actions must be applied equally to both sides of the Syria conflict as the opposition was rejecting calls to engage Assad in direct talks.
“This resolution must be strict, but it must not lead to the automatic application of sanctions,” Medvedev said in reference to a UN Security Council action proposed by Western powers.
Medvedev last week also identified some of those protesting against Assad as “terrorists” and refused to agree with Western states that no longer recognize Assad’s legitimacy.
Since mid-March, Syria has been shaken by a protest movement that has been met with a deadly government crackdown and unprecedented violence.
On Monday, a 12-year-old boy was killed in Douma, near Damascus, by gunfire from security forces who fired on a funeral, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Also a man and his son were killed in the central province of Homs during security operations in the town of Al-Rastan, it said.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, 2,600 people have been killed in the violent crackdown since the protests erupted.
On the ground in Syria, military operations continued, with communications cut in most parts of the northwest province of Idlib.
In the southern town of Deraa, checkpoints were erected around Palestinian refugee camps, the Observatory said.
In the central city of Hama, security forces were looking for the local attorney general, Adnan al-Bakkur, who defected last week, activists told AFP.
Meanwhile, Assad praised the Lebanese army at a meeting in Damascus with Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn, the official SANA news agency reported.
Assad noted the “great efforts of the Lebanese army in coordination with the Syrian army in monitoring the border and preventing the entry of large quantities of weapons into Syria targeting the security of this country,” the agency said.