Russia monitoring situation in Syria to assist compatriots

Members of the Syrian Free Army walk in front of a damaged tank in Idlib July 3, 2012. (Reuters/Shaam News Network/Handout)
Following a visit to the embattled Arab country, the Russian Public Chamber said it is closely watching the situation in Syria to evacuate Russians if necessary.

Many Russians with relatives in Syria requested the assistance of the Chamber, Alexander Sokolov, said on Wednesday. He heads the working group on international cooperation and public diplomacy that has paid a visit to Syria.

"Of course, we are not indifference to our compatriots' fate,” he said. “We met with them."

Sokolov said there is no need at the time being “to sound the alarm to evacuate the compatriots.”

The Chamber has asked the Foreign Ministry to strengthen Russia’s consular presence in Syria, while adding that it did not believe the situation is “catastrophic” at present.

Maxim Grigoryev, Public Chamber working group member, believes the element of foreign interference does not allow the Syrian authorities to implement the necessary reforms in full.

“It seems that everything was prepared earlier,” he observed. “There is information the militants before the beginning of the protest actions (which began on March 15, 2011) rented apartments in various cities in Syria.”

“Apparently, they (the organizers of the protests) had prepared themselves for such developments," he added.

Grigoryev mentioned that President Assad still enjoys majority support across the country.

“The number of participants in rallies in support of the current authorities is more than the number in the opposition demonstrations,” he said. “Nobody forces people to go to meetings in support of the government.”

Grigoryev, citing various reports, revealed that militants in Homs protected themselves with the civilian population and did not allow civilians to leave the area. Also those in refugee camps are not being allowed to return to Syria, and humanitarian organizations are denied entry.

The Syrian opposition has refused to accept all international efforts to end the violence if President Assad plays any part in a transitional government.

Robert Bridge, RT