ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 29 (UPI) -- Syria is obliged to "annihilate terrorists," President Bashar Assad said, and he thanked Iran for supporting his government in his country's 26-month uprising.
U.S. and Russian officials prepared to meet to discuss the Syrian crisis and Turkish troops and a convoy of about 30 military vehicles, including trucks with missile launchers, were moved to Turkey's border with Syria, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
"The responsibility of the Syrian government is to protect all our residents. We have a responsibility to annihilate terrorists in every corner of the country," Assad said in a taped interview broadcast Thursday on Iranian state television.
In the interview, which The New York Times said was recorded in Damascus last week, Assad thanked Iran for being one of the "wise governments" supporting Syria during the uprising, which Assad repeated was led by foreign-backed terrorists.
"We highly appreciate the realistic stance of an important regional country such as Iran," said Assad, whose Arabic words were dubbed by the network into Persian.
He said Syria would reciprocate the loyalty.
Western powers accuse Iran of providing weapons, money and training to Syrian security forces engaged in a harsh suppression of political opposition.
Assad rejected "any non-Syrian, non-national model -- whether it comes from big countries or friendly countries" -- to resolve the violent conflict.
"No one knows how to solve Syria's problems as well as we do," he told the network.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were to discuss ways of resolving the conflict in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday before participating in an emergency world powers meeting on the issue in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday.
Clinton said Thursday U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's "political transition roadmap" for Syria could signify a breakthrough in stalled diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis, which Washington says must include Assad stepping down.
"You have to have a transition that complies with international standards on human rights, accountable governance, the rule of law, equal opportunity for all people of Syria, and this framework lays out how to arrive at that," Clinton said Thursday during a visit to Riga, the capital of Latvia.
Russia refuses to go along with any plan calling for Assad's ouster.
Saturday's "Action Group" meeting, convened by Annan, is to include the five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China -- Annan's office said.
Russia and China are Syrian allies.
Invitations were sent to Turkey, the U.N. and Arab League secretaries-general and the Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Qatari foreign ministers, who head Arab League committees concerned with Syria.
Iran and Saudi Arabia -- on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict -- were not invited.
The meeting is widely seen as an attempt to revive a peace plan brokered by Annan in April. The six-point plan focused on securing a cease-fire, which never took hold and there was instead a surge in violence by both the Assad regime and the opposition.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 140 people, include 46 government troops, were killed Thursday. Most of the casualties occurred in Homs and Douma.
The government's Syrian Arab News Agency said a professor and five of her family members were were assassinated Thursday by armed activists outside Homs. Ten people were killed and 20 were injured in an ensuing clash with authorities, SANA said.
The Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee of Douma City said a family of 10 was killed by government troops after fierce shelling by government troops, The Guardian newspaper reported.
Clashes were also reported in Taldaw, Daraa and Kafr Nasej,.
At least three people were injured in two blasts outside of the Justice Ministry in Damascus, state TV said.
The government alleges efforts to evacuate the wounded from Homs are being thwarted by armed groups.
Government and military officials would not confirm the Turkish deployment. But a Turkish general staff spokesman was quoted by the Journal as saying Turkey's military deployment usually reflects the country's rules of engagement.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday warned Turkey would militarily target any Syrian forces approaching their joint 565-mile border, following a disputed downing of a Turkish warplane off Syria's coast.
"Every military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria in a manner that constitutes a security risk or danger would be considered as a threat and would be treated as a military target," Erdogan told Parliament.
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