Moscow considers a new massacre in Syria, which has claimed the lives of scores of civilians, as a vicious and despicable provocation aimed at hampering implementation of the Annan plan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
Opposition activists and the Syrian government have accused each other of responsibility for the deaths of over a hundred civilians, including women and children, late on Wednesday in a new massacre in the country’s northern Hama province.
“There I no doubt that certain forces once again used vicious and despicable provocations to frustrate Kofi Annan’s plan,” spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
The Foreign Ministry condemned the massacre, and urged the international community to consolidate its support for the six-point plan, which is intended to prevent an escalation of the violence in Syria.
The Hama massacre is the second within a week to shock Syria. Last week, the Houla massacre in Homs province, which claimed the lives of more than 100, led to international condemnation of the Syrian government, amid reports by U.N. observers that a large number of those killed, including women and children, had been shot at close range.
After the latest reports of a further massacre in Hama Province the United States, which leads the Friends of Syria group, has called on members of the international community to introduce separate sanctions against the Bashar al-Assad regime, to step up pressure on the country’s leadership.
Lukashevich expressed hope that the ongoing humanitarian operation in Syria would help stabilize the situation there, and prevent unilateral sanctions. He said that the Syrian authorities had agreed to allow nine UN agencies and seven non-governmental organizations to carry out humanitarian missions in four Syrian provinces swept by violence.
Over 9,000 people have been killed in clashes between the government and opposition forces in Syria since the start of the uprising against the al-Assad regime last year, according to UN estimates.
Russia and China have twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions over what Moscow called a pro-rebel bias against Syrian authorities, but have supported Annan’s peace plan.