Both Syrian sides intensifying violence: U.N. monitor
By Thomas Grove and Oliver Holmes
MOSCOW/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Both rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are intensifying violence in Syria and striving for military gains rather than peaceful transition, the chief U.N. monitor in Syria, Major-General Robert Mood, said on Friday.
Russia dug in further against Western pressure to discuss a post-Assad Syria, and France's foreign minister said Paris was considering whether to equip rebels with communications equipment to encourage a "stronger revolt".
At least 34 people were killed in Syria on Friday, said the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, most of them by Assad's forces. The group, which has a network of activists across Syria, said the death toll included at least six members of Assad's forces who were killed in clashes with rebels.
"Violence over the past 10 days has been intensified, again willingly by both parties, with losses on both sides and at significant risk to our observers," Mood told reporters in Damascus.
"There appears to be a lack of willingness to see a peaceful transition. Instead there is a push towards advancing military positions."
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said discussions regarding a political transformation in Syria after Assad "are not being held and cannot be held, because to decide for the Syrian people contradicts our position completely".
"We do not get involved in overthrowing regimes - neither through approval of unilateral actions by the U.N. Security Council nor by participation in any political plots," he said.
His comments were a response to a remark by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland suggesting Washington and Moscow were discussing a post-Assad strategy in Syria. Continued...