Putin says democracy solution to Syria crisis



BRUSSELS: ARAB NEWS

Published — Saturday 22 December 2012

Last update 23 December 2012 8:26 pm

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Russian President Vladimir Putin met with European leaders in Brussels to discuss energy, Syria and human rights, but reached no agreements — as officials on both sides had predicted in advance.
Putin said after yesterday’s meeting that Russia isn’t a defender of Syrian President Bashar Assad and wants to see a democratically elected government. But he maintained his stance that peace can only be achieved through an agreement that would ensure the protection of various groups in Syria.
Meanwhile, NATO’s top official said yesterday that the Syrian military has continued to fire Scud-type missiles, describing the move as “an act of desperation of a regime nearing its end.”
Although none of the Syrian rockets hit Turkish territory, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmusen said the use of the medium-range ballistic rockets showed that NATO was justified in deploying six batteries of Patriot anti-missile systems in neighboring Turkey.
“I can confirm that we have detected the launch of Scud-type missiles; we strongly regret that act,” Rasmusen told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
In Damascus, Palestinian refugees streamed back into their Yarmuk camp after a reported deal to keep it out of the conflict, following fierce clashes earlier this week.
“We returned because we have had enough of being humiliated,” one refugee said. “We lost our land (Palestine) but we don’t want to lose our homes and live in tents like our parents.”

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