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Putin slams ‘cynical’ West on Syria

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DAMASCUS - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin slammed the "cynical" West over Syria on Monday as regime forces pounded the rebel city of Homs and the United States warned of "every possibility" of civil war.

Putin strongly defended Moscow's joint veto with China on two UN Security Council draft resolutions condemning Damascus for its deadly crackdown on dissent.

The Russian strongman accused the West of "lacking the patience to work out an adjusted and balanced" resolution that also required opposition forces to cease fire and withdraw from flashpoints such as Homs.

"All that remained was to demand that the armed opposition do the same as the government -- namely, withdraw their fighting units and detachments from the cities," Putin wrote in the Moskovskiye Novosti daily.

"A refusal to do so was cynical."

His article appeared a day after Syrians voted on a new constitution amid opposition calls for a boycott and further bloodshed, with a Britain-based watchdog reporting more than 150 dead in two days, a third of them soldiers.

Washington branded the referendum "laughable" and Canada slammed the controversial vote as "a farce."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "must go. A new day must dawn for the Syrian people," Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird said.

He called the referendum "a dubious ploy by the Assad regime to delay the inevitable while continuing its slaughter of Syrian civilians."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned there was "every possibility" of civil war in Syria, and urged regime troops involved in the 11-month crackdown to renounce violence against civilians.

"We are appealing to the members of the Syrian army to put their country first," Clinton said in Morocco.

"The longer you support the regime campaign of violence against your brothers and sisters, the more it will stain your honour," she said.

In Homs -- under assault by regime forces for more than three weeks -- shelling of the rebel district of Baba Amr on Sunday dashed Red Cross hopes of a lull to allow the evacuation of two wounded Western journalists.

British photographer Paul Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier were wounded in the attack Wednesday which claimed the life of American war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik.

"It will take place most likely on Monday," ICRC spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh said in Damascus of the planned evacuation.

Conroy's wife Kate urged London to rescue her husband, despite the British government deeming the mission too dangerous.

In Homs, no voting appeared to have taken place, activist Hadi Abdullah said.

Assad unveiled the proposed new referendum earlier this month, in the latest step in what he says is a cautious process of reform.

The draft text ends the legal basis for the five-decade stranglehold on power of the ruling Baath party but still leaves huge powers in his hands.

The opposition says the changes are cosmetic after nearly a year of repression by Assad's security forces that human rights groups say has left more than 7,600 people dead.

Drawn up by a committee of 29 people appointed by Assad, the new charter would drop the highly controversial Article 8 in the existing constitution, which states that the Baath party is "the head of state and society."

The new political system would be based on "pluralism," and ban the formation of parties on religious lines.

But under the new charter, the president would retain broad powers, such as naming the premier and government and, in some cases, could veto legislation.

Article 88 states that the president can be elected for two seven-year terms, but Article 155 says these conditions only take effect after the next election for a head of state, set for 2014.

Assad could therefore theoretically stay at the helm for another 16 years.

The opposition Syrian National Council piled the pressure on Assad by inviting the Alawite community from which he hails to join ranks to build a new Syria.

"We are determined to close national ranks and the first sign of this unity is to extend our hands to our Alawite brothers in order to build a country of nation governed by citizenship and the rule of law," it said.

The SNC accused the regime of trying to set religious communities against each other and stressed that Alawites -- who represent 12 percent of the mostly Sunni population of 22 million -- will always be an "important component of Syria."

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Tsar Putin is a pint sized ex KGB dictator who gets off on himself. That and he's one of the biggest thieves this world has ever known. He's running his mouth over time atm seeing how it's election season...even though he's already fixed the elections and there's no way he can lose. He either jails his opponents or just doesn't let them run against him.

He could give two craps less about Iran or Syria...he's only in it for himself. A bullet through his head would be a godsend for Russians.


"I want to take this opportunity to mention how thankful I am for an Obama re-election. The choice was clear. We cannot live in a country that treats homosexuals and women as second class citizens. Homosexuals deserve all of the rights and benefits of marriage that heterosexuals receive. Women deserve to be treated with respect and their salaries should not depend on their gender, but their quality of work. I am also thankful that the great, progressive state of California once again voted for the correct President. America is moving forward, and the direction is a positive one."

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