Russian senators to visit Syria

Senators from Russia’s upper house are set to visit Syria in an effort to ease political tensions in the country.

Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council international affairs committee, said Syria’s presidential advisor for politics and media Bouthaina Shaaban and members of the Syrian opposition had approved the visit.

“The main purpose of the visit is to go to Damascus and meet with the Syrian leadership, and also to tour the areas where the protests are taking place,” Margelov said, adding that the delegation would be headed by the deputy speaker of the upper house, Ilyas Umakhanov.

Moscow favors a political solution to the six-month confrontation between the Syrian authorities and the opposition while the United States and the European Union have called on President Bashar Al-Assad to quit.

Margelov said the Russian delegation would seek to start a dialogue between the conflicting sides in Syria to prevent armed confrontation and international interference in the situation.

“We do not want the Libyan scenario to be repeated in Syria,” he said.

The opposition in Syria wants the president to resign and political reforms to be pursued. The authorities have drafted a reform plan and called for a dialogue. The opposition has refused to cooperate until the president leaves office.

The government has used force to crush the opposition protests, which followed a wave of uprisings in other Arab countries.

A UN report said at least 2,200 people have died in clashes between the government forces and protesters.

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