Russia Dismisses A Role In Helping Oust Assad

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The foreign minister of Russia, Syria’s most reliable ally, said on Saturday that Russia would not act as a mediator in any attempts to get President Bashar al-Assad to leave Syria, although he said several countries were offering asylum, according to the Interfax news service.

The mother of a rebel with the Free Syrian Army mourned as his body was brought home during his funeral in Aleppo.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The foreign minister of Russia, Syria’s most reliable ally, said on Saturday that Russia would not act as a mediator in any attempts to get President Bashar al-Assad to leave Syria, although he said several countries were offering asylum, according to the Interfax news service.

“We would be the first to cross ourselves and say, ‘Thank God, the carnage is over,’ ” the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, told reporters who accompanied him on a flight home from the Russia-European Union summit meeting in Brussels, Interfax said.

“Several countries in the region have turned to us and suggested ‘Tell Assad we are ready to fix him up,’ ” Mr. Lavrov said. “And we answered ‘What do we have to do with it? If you have such plans, approach him directly.’ ”

Mr. Lavrov’s comments follow several days of signals from Russia that it is distancing itself from Mr. Assad, while at the same time maintaining its strong opposition to any intervention in Syria by Western powers. The adjustments to the Russian position have come as rebel fighters have claimed new gains in the war, pushing aggressively toward government strongholds near Damascus, the capital, and in the central Syrian city of Hama, while drawing a vicious response from the military.

Last week, opposition fighters tried to occupy the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, which they planned to use as a staging ground for attacks on central Damascus, setting off a fierce battle that caused most of the camp’s residents to flee.

On Saturday afternoon, a car bomb detonated in the Damascus suburb of Qaboun, killing at least six, as well as destroying buildings and wounding scores of people on a commercial street.

The neighborhood is less than two miles from central Damascus in a belt of restive suburbs where the rebels have had a presence for more than a year. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

Fighting continued on Saturday in central Syria, where rebels have been attacking government checkpoints and positions in an effort to cut the military’s supply routes to the northern Idlib Province. In a video posted on the Internet on Friday, rebel fighters threatened violence against the residents of two Christian villages in Hama Province if they did not evict loyalists known as shabiha.

In the video, a fighter wearing a black headband marked with the Muslim declaration “There is no God but God” said that rebels who raided one village were attacked by “shabiha hiding behind houses.” The fighter, asserting that the rebels withdrew “to spare civilians,” said that if the residents did not evict the government loyalists immediately, the rebels would “direct our artillery” against the loyalists.

The warning was met with alarm by a resident of one of the villages, al-Suqaylabiyah. The resident, a doctor who is currently in Turkey, said that the village was 95 percent Christian and that most residents had chosen not to take sides in the war. The appearance of the men in the video — “very Islamic and militarized,” he said — was unlikely to win the rebels any support.

Both Mr. Lavrov and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia have in recent days said that they predict a long period of instability in Syria, and on Saturday Mr. Lavrov said that he believed Western intelligence services shared the assessment that “the end of the regime will hardly bring an end” to the conflict.

He also said that he believed both American and European supporters of the opposition coalition were losing their ability to influence antigovernment forces in Syria. “We ask the Americans, you promised us that you would be able to draw them away from their militant and hard-line position toward the Geneva platform,” he said. “What have you done to make that happen? They are silent.

“We also asked our friends from the European Union, who also recognized that coalition as the representatives of the Syrian people,” he added. “They are also silent.”

Kareem Fahim reported from Beirut, and Ellen Barry from Moscow. Hala Droubi contributed from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Hwaida Saad from Beirut.