Russia denies FSA killed general

Aug. 8, 2012 at 7:28 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Russia denied Free Syrian Army claims it had killed a Russian general proving Moscow's involvement in "humanitarian crimes" against Syrians.

The FSA identified the general as Vladimir Petrovic Kojaiv, who was a consultant to the Syrian defense minister and head of general staff of military affairs, al-Arabiya said Wednesday. The FSA said Kojaiv was killed with his translator.

Russia's Defense Ministry denied the claims. "The goal of broadcasting such statements is not just to cause a sensation but a clear attempt at a slur toward the Russian army," RIA Novosti quoted a ministry statement saying.

The Russian news agency said Kojaiv met with journalists Wednesday at the ministry to personally dismiss the report.

"I want to express thanks to the media for their attention to my person ... I want to confirm that I am well and alive, live in Moscow ... I realize that this information is a provocation not only against me but against my country," the agency quoted Kojaiv saying.

In a video clip broadcast by al-Arabiya, an unidentified FSA officer says "we warned all the snakes to go back to their dens whether it is Russia, Iran and Iraq or Lebanon." The Russian general's identity card was shown on the clip.

Russia and China have blocked U.N. resolutions viewed as going against the Assad regime.

Syria's former Prime Minister Riad Hijab appeared for the first time in public in a video clip filmed in al-Ni'aimah a town close to the Jordanian border, the network said Wednesday. Hijab is shown seated next to two children and several men reportedly FSA rebels said to be guarding him prior to his departure for Jordan.

FSA commander Abu al-Majid al-Zou'bi head of the al-Yarmouk Brigade in Deraa told al-Arabiya his men assisted the prime minister and his family and relatives to cross into Jordan.

Jordanian authorities denied Hijab was in the country when contacted by al-Arabiya to comment.

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