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Russia Sees Syrian Massacre as Bid to Stop Annan Plan, RIA Says

Russia said the massacre of more than 100 people in the Syrian town of Houla may be an attempt to sabotage peace efforts, RIA Novosti reported, citing Alexander Pankin, the Russian deputy United Nations envoy.

The timing of the May 25 killings, ahead of a visit to Syria by UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, shows a deliberate effort to undermine the former UN chief’s peace plan, Pankin said. While the deaths were evidently caused by heavy artillery and tank fire, many bodies were shot at close range, he was quoted as saying by the state news service.

The Syrian government shouldn’t shoulder all the blame because its forces didn’t enter Houla, Pankin said, according to RIA. The massacre was in the interest of forces seeking to provoke a full-scale armed conflict in the country, the Russian diplomat said, adding that he didn’t rule out the involvement by foreign intelligence services.

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