DAMASCUS - Thousands protested Friday in support of the rebel Free Syrian Army as Moscow kept up its opposition to calls for tougher action against Damascus, calling them flagrant attempts at regime change.
The street rallies followed a day in which security forces killed 15 civilians in their crackdown, and came after the largest civilian opposition group decided to boost cooperation with the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). Security forces deployed in strength - as on every Friday over the past 10 months for the main weekly protests - killed at least eight people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP in Nicosia.
It said four people were killed in Homs, one in Hama, including a 17-year-old, both in central Syria, one in Damir near the capital, one in Idlib province of the northwest and one in the northern region of Aleppo.
Burhan Ghaliun, head of the Syrian National Council, an umbrella group that initially opposed the use of force in the uprising, met on Thursday with rebel army chief Colonel Riad al-Asaad. And Dmitry Rogozin, Moscow’s departing ambassador to NATO, warned the West against any foreign intervention in Syria.
Meanwhile, a Russian ship carrying “dangerous cargo” has sailed for Syria after a stopover in Cyprus, despite a pledge reportedly given to Cypriot authorities not to travel on to the unrest-swept state, its owner said Friday.