Lavrov: No regime change in Syria

March 8, 2013 at 9:07 AM

MOSCOW, March 8 (UPI) -- Russia isn't in a position to determine who should be in charge of the Syrian government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Civil war in Syria enters its third year this month. What started as protests against Syrian President Bashar Assad during the Arab Spring has turned into a military campaign that's left more than 70,000 people dead and another 1 million displaced.

Lavrov said that, despite the bloodshed, his government wasn't joining the calls for regime change in Damascus.

"I can only say it is not for us to decide who should lead Syria. It is for the Syrians to decide," he said. "You know that we are not in the regime-change game. We are against interference in domestic conflicts."

Efforts to censure Syria at the U.N. Security Council have been met with opposition from permanent member Russia, which says draft resolutions lack balance.

Russia is Syria's largest arms supplier.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Assad long ago lost his legitimacy to lead and must be removed from power.

"Assad cannot shoot his way out of this," Kerry said.

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