Russia rejects calls for Syrian arms embargo

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Russia rejects calls for Syrian arms embargo

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Russia opposes any form of arms embargo being slapped on Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Lavrov, whose country is one of the veto wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, said the international community must stop threatening Damascus and encourage dialogue between the government and the opposition.

The call came from the UN Human Rights Council and a number of western powers.

Moscow’s chief diplomat pointed to recent events in Libya, saying sanctions must be applied to the government and the opposition.

“In reality, that embargo was only enforced against the Libyan army. The opposition got arms from countries such as France and Qatar,” Lavrov told reporters at a press conference in the Russian capital.

A government-led crackdown on protests against President Bashar Assad’s regime has been widely condemned by the international community. The UN estimates at least 3,500 people have died since unrest began in March.

But Russia has been one of few states to oppose punishing Damascus. Last month, Russia and China veto a Western-backed Security Council resolution condemning the violence in Syria.

Moscow enjoys close economic and strategic ties with Syria. It has a naval base there and also sells weapons to the country.