Russia’s Stance on Syria Is Propping Up Regime, Clinton Says

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Russia’s stance on Syria is “propping up” the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and urged the government in Moscow to help prevent the conflict turning into a civil war.

“The Russians keep telling us they want to do anything they can to avoid a civil war,” Clinton said today in Copenhagen. “They are vociferous in their claim that they are providing a stabilizing influence. I reject that. I think they are propping up the regime at a time when we should be working on a political transition.”

The U.S. faces the dilemma of whether to act in Syria without the United Nations, Clinton said. Tensions are rising within the UN Security Council after the weekend’s Houla massacre, the worst atrocity in the 15-month uprising against Assad. Russia has blocked attempts to impose more economic pressure on the regime in Syria.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters yesterday that if the council can’t agree on more measures, Western nations and others supporting the Syrian opposition may emphasize actions outside the council’s authority.

According to UN estimates, the killings in Houla region, western Syria, left 108 people dead including 49 children. Most of the victims died in their homes and entire families were executed by gunmen at close range, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said yesterday, citing witnesses and survivors. The killings amounted to an “appalling massacre,” the UN said.

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