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Russia concerned by Assad's possible fall

MOSCOW, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Terrorist organizations could become "entrenched" in Damascus if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad falls, a Russian official said.

Members of the international community have said they are running out of patience with Damascus. Estimates are that at least 2,500 people have been killed at the hands of Syrian security forces since an uprising against Assad began early this year.

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Ilya Rogachyov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's threats department, said if Assad falls, the country could fall into the wrong hands.

"If the Syrian government is unable to hold on to power, there is a high probability that radicals and representatives of terrorist organizations will become entrenched," he was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

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Russia, which wields veto power at the U.N. Security Council, is seen as an obstacle to getting a formal resolution passed against Damascus. The Kremlin, echoing the line taken by Assad's regime, said some of the groups tied to the opposition in Syria could have links to terrorism.

Much of the region, including Iran, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council have stated publicly that dialogue, not violence, may be the best course of action in Damascus.

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Beyond a general statement of condemnation, the Security Council hasn't issued a formal resolution on Syria. U.S. State Department officials said it was time to start work on a resolution that had "teeth."

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The Daily Telegraph in London reports that Washington is working on a draft resolution but it could be at least two weeks before it's circulated at the Security Council.

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