World Bulletin/News Desk
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Saturday that international support for Syrian rebels would lead to "more blood" and the government could not be expected to willingly give in to its opponents.
Lavrov, whose country has vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions intended to increase pressure on Syria's government to end 16 months of violence, said Western and Arab nations should exert more influence on rebels to stop fighting.
He said "tragedy" could be imminent in the Syrian city of Aleppo, but indicated rebels would be at least partly to blame.
"Pressure must be put on everyone," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba after talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, President Vladimir Putin's summer base.
"Unfortunately, our Western partners prefer to do something a bit different and essentially, along with some countries neighbouring Syria, encourage, support and direct the armed fight against the regime," he said.
"The price of all this is still more blood."
In the wake of the Security Council vetoes by Russia and China, the United States has said it will seek ways to trackle the crisis outside the U.N.
Gemba said it was "very serious moment" in Syria and it was primarily up to the government to stop the bloodshed.
"The position of the Russian side has great influence, and there is also the voice of the international community. We are counting on a constructive Russian position," he said, speaking through an interpreter.
Lavrov said Russia was calling on the government to "take the first steps" but that the rebels should not take advantage of any such government actions by occupying cities and towns.
"The city of Aleppo is occupied by the armed opposition and the next tragedy is brewing there, as I understand it," he said.
"Well-armed opposition groups are occupying cities, intending to create some sort of buffer zones for a transitional government. How can one expect that the Syrian government will say, 'Yes, go ahead, overthrow me,'" he said.
"This is unrealistic - not because we are holding onto the regime but because it just doesn't work," he said.
After Arab states arrayed against Qatar issue 13-point list of demands, resolution of crisis looks more distant than ever
Israel says it hits Syrian targets after projectiles fired from Syria landed on its territories
Women and men currently must pray separately at Jerusalem's Western Wall under strict interpretation of Jewish law.
Presidency pardons more than 1,000 prisoners for Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday
Media reports it advised Saudi citizens to avoid travelling to Turkey ‘baseless’, embassy says
Israeli military terms its attack in Syria 'a retaliatory' move to allegedly stop rocket attacks from Syria
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratifies transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi sovereignty
Opposition party leader says US efforts over Israeli-Palestinian peace processes will fail
More than 200,000 suspected cholera cases have been reported in Yemen
HRW accused UAE of running two secret detention facilities in Yemen
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this week had been adamant that Kuwait was best placed to lead efforts to defuse the crisis.
The 13-point list of demands includes closure of Al Jazeera television and downgrading Iran ties
"Iran... as always expresses its readiness to assist and cooperate with other countries to confront these criminals, who deal death and ignorantly spread hate," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said.
Members of Al-Nahyan family given 15-month suspended sentence, fined
5 police officers, 6 foreign nationals wounded when suicide bomber detonates bomb