Russian embassy in Syria denies covert cooperation between Moscow, Damascus

February 17, 2012 9:14 am 

DAMASCUS, Feb. 17 — The Russian embassy in Damascus dismissed Thursday media reports circulated recently about some covert Syrian-Russian military cooperation, regarding such reports as "propaganda and incompatible with the truth."

The reports, claiming that Russia is sending special groups and weapons aboard ships to Syria as well as renewing the work of a radar atop of the Qassioun Mountain in Damascus and installing a similar one along the Syrian-Turkish borders, are "baseless," the embassy said in a statement carried by Syrian state-run SANA news agency.

"Some misleading media outlets had even gone to the extent of claiming that the Russian delegation, which had visited Syria recently, brought photos about the sites of armed opposition in some Syrian areas," it said, adding that these are no more than " rumors that have nothing to do with reality."

Russia works steadily to stop the violence in Syria as soon as possible and to achieve the Syrian people's rightful demands in renewing democratic life.

It said Russia is seeking ways to end the internal crisis "by the endeavors of the Syrians themselves and without any foreign intervention, adding that Russia believes that its basic mission is to prevent civil war in Syria, work to take the country to a new political phase and preserve the stability and peace of the Syrian people and the entire Middle East.

On Feb. 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov set foot in the Syrian capital of Damascus along with Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mikhail Fradkov and held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the current situation in Syria.

After meeting with Assad, Lavrov said that Syria needs peace and that a national reconciliation should be achieved away from foreign interference.

The Russian top diplomat said that Assad has stressed commitment to bring the simmering violence in the country to a close "whatever its source might be."

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Russia hoped all Syrian political groups would create favorable conditions for an upcoming constitutional referendum in the country.

"Moscow regards this move as evidence, despite the complicated security situation, that the Syrian leadership is fulfilling its promises to carry out profound political and socio-economic reforms in line with the transitional schedule announced on Jan. 10," the ministry said in a statement.

It said the national referendum would also show the Syrian people's democratic will, which included a ceasefire, an end to the violence and the beginning of an inclusive dialogue.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a presidential decree Wednesday, setting Feb. 26 as the date for the referendum on a new draft constitution.

Violence has continued to escalate in Syria, which has been hit by 11 months of unrest. (PNA/Xinhua) RSV /mmg

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