Syrian rebels hit Baath offices, Russia warns of civil war
Published Thursday, November 17, 2011
Army defectors hit youth offices of Syria's ruling Baath party in Idlib province on Thursday, a human rights group said.
No casualties were reported, but the attack indicates an escalation of violence from army defectors, the Free Syrian Army, against the regime.
"A group of dissident troops attacked regime youth offices, where security agents were meeting, with rocket-propelled grenades and clashes broke out," the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The attack cannot be independently verified, and the Syrian government is yet to confirm whether the incident took place.
The attack on the Baath party offices comes a day after a major assault on an air force intelligence site in Harasta, near the capital Damascus.
The escalation in violence drew condemnation from Russia, which warned the country was headed towards a civil war.
"There are more and more weapons that are being smuggled in from neighboring countries," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"Today I saw a television report about some new so-called rebel Free Syrian Army organizing an attack on the government building, on the building belonging to Syria's armed forces," he told reporters.
"This was quite similar to a true civil war," he warned.
Lavrov stated in a tweet that those seeking peace in Syria should call for the opposition to cease violence, as well as the regime.
“Those who support peace in #Syria must demand that both the government and the opposition put an end to violence,” Russia's Foreign Ministry tweeted.
The US echoed similar concerns, but blamed the Syrian regime for the violence that made it “not surprising” for violent reprisals from the opposition.
"We don't condone it in any way, shape or form but...it's the brutal tactics of Assad and his regime in dealing with what began as a non-violent movement (that) is now taking Syria down a very dangerous path," Washington's State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.