BEIRUT — Syrian security forces maintained calm Monday in areas of Damascus rocked by demonstrations over the weekend, as President Bashar al-Assad reiterated that ongoing violence was the result of armed terrorist groups funded by “foreign parties.”
After a meeting between Assad and Alexei Pushkov, a member of the Russian parliament, Syrian state media reported that Assad had condemned armed opposition groups for blocking a political solution to the country’s crisis. Assad’s opponents say the crisis is the result of a brutal crackdown on an initially peaceful protest movement, now 11 months old.
Officials from Russia, which remains a staunch ally of Assad, have urged reform and criticized calls from many Western leaders for Assad to step down as interference in Syrian affairs.
“Some influential big states” have been meddling in Syrian affairs, using humanitarian aid as a cover, said Pushkov, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.
His words, echoed in articles in newspapers of Assad’s other main backer, China, came after a nonbinding U.N. General Assembly resolution was passed last week, calling for an end to violence in Syria, and as preparations continue for a meeting Friday in Tunisia of a “Friends of Syria” group.