MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday he has warned Syria's ruler that he will face a "sad fate" if he fails to introduce reforms in his country and open a peaceful dialogue with the opposition.
In remarks carried by Russian news agencies, Medvedev said he has directly delivered this message to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
An offensive by Syrian forces against anti-government dissent in the city of Hama, backed by tanks and snipers, has killed scores of people since Sunday.
"Regrettably, large numbers of people are dying there. That causes us grave concern," Medvedev was quoted as saying.
"That's why both on a personal level and in the letters I sent to him (Assad) I have emphasized that it's necessary to urgently conduct reforms, negotiate with the opposition, restore civil peace, and create a modern state.
"If he fails to do that, he will face a sad fate. And in the end we will also have to make some decisions. We are watching how the situation is developing. It's changing, and our approach is changing as well."
On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council finally responded to the escalating violence in Syria by condemning Assad's forces for attacking civilians and committing human rights violations. That happened after Russia and other countries dropped their long-standing opposition to such a resolution.
The presidential statement adopted by the council urges Syrian authorities to immediately end all violence and launch an inclusive political process that will allow the Syrian people to fully exercise "fundamental freedoms ... including that of expression and peaceful assembly."