- Syrian state-run TV shows throngs of people waving Russian and Syrian flags
- An opposition group says 128 people were killed Monday, mostly in Homs
- Russia strikes back at “hysterical” criticism of its U.N. veto
(CNN) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Damascus on Tuesday to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, days after world leaders accused Russia of helping give the Syrian government a green light to kill more civilians.
While attempts at diplomacy have so far failed to curb the estimated thousands of deaths in the 11-month conflict, residents and opposition activists say they are desperate for international help in stopping the regime from slaughtering dissidents.
But Syrian state-run TV showed throngs of people waving Russian and Syrian flags in Damascus — highlighting the stark contrast in perception of what is happening in the country.
At least 128 were killed nationwide Monday, mostly in the besieged city of Homs, according to the opposition Syrian Revolution General Commission.
“The situation is beyond description,” the commission said in a statement. “Some of these martyrs were killed with shrapnel and the others were under the rubble, and their bodies couldn’t be identified because they were in remains.”
China and Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would have demanded al-Assad stop the violence and seek a solution to the crisis.
Several of the 13 Security Council members who voted for the draft expressed outrage over the dual veto. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Russia and China “will have any future blood spill on their hands,” while French Ambassador Gerard Araud said Beijing and Moscow have aligned themselves with a regime that is massacring its people.
Chinese and Russian representatives said they want the violence to end and to see dialogue among Syria’s opposition factions. On his way to Damascus for talks with al-Assad, Lavrov said Western states “are trying to obscure the developments with hysterical statements on Russia’s veto of the Syria resolution,” according to comments carried on the Foreign Ministry’s Twitter page.
“The UNSC’s attempt to force the Syrian regime to stop the violence without the same for the armed groups shows support for one side,” Lavrov said. He added that it was “disrespectful” for council members to bring the resolution up for a vote “despite our request to wait for Russia’s report after its visit to Damascus.”
But for every day diplomats’ debate, more blood spills at the hands of the Syrian regime, activists say.
“You have rockets landing next to your house. I’m next to a window and a rocket might kill me,” said an opposition activist in Homs identified as “Danny.”
Another opposition activist known as Omar Shakir said snipers were ready to fire on “any moving thing.”
“We are getting killed every moment. We are not able even just to get some basic medicine to injured people. Children are really hungry,” said “Zaidoun,” a Damascus-based opposition member.
Protesters and rebel fighters are demanding an end to al-Assad’s rule and the beginning of true democratic elections. Al-Assad has been in power since 2000; his father, Hafez, ruled Syria for three decades.
U.N. officials have said an estimated 6,000 people have died since protests began nearly a year ago. The Local Coordination Committees said at least 7,339 people have been killed.
CNN’s Arwa Damon, Azadeh Ansari, Jennifer Deaton, Mick Krever and Richard Roth contributed to this report.