Russia says Libya training Syrian rebels

March 8, 2012 at 12:45 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, March 8 (UPI) -- A Russian official has accused Libya of running a training center for Syrian rebel forces that are combating the "legal government" of President Bashar Assad.

Speaking to the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, Russian representative Vitaly Churkin contended Libya was training Syrian rebels to bring Assad down, RIA Novosti reported.

"We are concerned by reports that in Libya, with the support of the authorities, there is a special training center for the so-called Syrian revolutionaries," Churkin said.

Churkin said the rebels' goal is to "attack the legal government."

"This is unacceptable," he said. "This activity is undermining stability in the Middle East."

More than 7,500 people are estimated to have died since the uprising against Assad began more than a year ago, the United Nations said.

The Syrian government blames violence in the country on "terrorists and armed gangs."

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