Masses rally, Russia criticizes Damascus

Masses rally, Russia criticizes Damascus

Masses rally, Russia criticizes Damascus

Demonstrators protesting against al-Assad in the streets in Homs in this file photo. More than 200,000 people marched in Homs after Friday prayers.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets Dec. 16 to protest against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said, a day after Russia sharpened its criticism of Damascus in a draft United Nations resolution. 

In Homs 200,000 people joined a protest march, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Syrian security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters after Friday prayers at several locations around the country. The Local Coordination Committees and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one person was killed in the shooting in the restive central city of Homs. 

Meanwhile, Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara is to hold talks with Russian officials in Moscow in a bid to defuse the crisis in his country, Russian news agencies quoted a Kremlin source as saying Dec. 16.

“This is our contribution to a solution to the crisis, which of course is worrying us,” said the source, who was not identified. The announcement of the talks comes after Russia on Dec. 15 took fellow U.N. Security Council members by surprise when it suddenly proposed a draft resolution condemning the violence by both the opposition and regime in Syria. 

Furthermore, Arab League foreign ministers have postponed indefinitely their meeting that was to take place this weekend on responding to Syria’s proposal to admit observers in exchange for an end to regional sanctions, the Arab League said late Dec. 15.