Russia's FM compares Syria attack to civil war

November 17, 2011 - 7:45 AM
Mideast Syria

A pro-Syrian regime protester, waves a Syrian flag from a fountain during a demonstration in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday Nov. 16, 2011, to protest against the Arab League meeting being held in Morocco. The Arab League is expected to formalize its weekend decision to suspend Syria from the Arab League, for failing to end its crackdown against anti-government protesters. (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday compared an attack by Syrian renegade troops on a government building to the beginning of a civil war.

Lavrov urged Syrian authorities and opposition forces to cease violence and negotiate, saying that "violence is not only coming from authorities."

He called Wednesday's attack by Syrian soldiers who deserted and sided with the opposition "already looks like a civil war."

Russia earlier urged Syrian leaders to implement reforms, but insisted that opposition forces should also be held accountable for the unrest.

But prominent Syrian opposition leaders who met with Lavrov on Tuesday said that they would not talk with President Bashar Assad.

Pressure has mounted on Assad to end the government's deadly crackdown on dissent. Lavrov also urged Syrian authorities to admit monitors from the Arab league and allow journalists to cover events in the country without restrictions.