Russia lauds Syrian decision to admit Arab monitors

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2011 12:39 PM
Russia lauds Syrian decision to admit Arab monitors

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Monday praised Syria's decision to let in Arab monitors, saying this could help stabilize the violence-stricken country, after Damascus made clear it agreed to the deal on the advice of its big power ally.

"We believe that the document signed in Cairo gives an opportunity to ... provide safety for the Syrian people and stabilize the situation," the Russian Foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Interfax news agency.

Syria agreed on Monday to let Arab League observers into the country to monitor implementation of a deal it agreed last month to pull troops from protest-hit towns, free political prisoners and start talking to dissidents.

Damascus signed the deal on the counseling of Moscow, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said.

An armed insurgency has emerged in the last two months in Syria, alongside a peaceful protest movement that began in March inspired by uprisings across the Arab world.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces, including a pro-Assad militia, have reportedly suffered scores of casualties in the last few weeks, especially in the northwestern province of Idlib near Turkey and in the central region of Homs.

Russia has had strong ties with Damascus since the Soviet era. Syria has been a major client for Russian arms sales and hosts a Russian naval maintenance installation on its Mediterranean coast, a rare outpost abroad for Moscow's military.

(Reporting By Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Mark Heinrich)