MOSCOW, March 5 (RIA Novosti) - The recent murder of Syrian nationals in Iraq means that the Syrian conflict is spreading beyond the country’s borders, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We are indignant at the crime committed on Iraqi territory,” Alexander Lukashevich said.
About 48 Syrians, mostly servicemen, and nine Iraqi soldiers were killed on Monday in an ambush in western Iraq, which Iraqi officials blamed on al-Qaeda. Media and Iraqi authorities reported earlier that a group of Syrian soldiers, some of whom were wounded, hid on Iraqi territory, but were attacked when returning to their country.
“It is bad that, as we warned earlier, an internal Syrian conflict is beginning to spill over beyond Syria’s borders, creating a direct threat to the security of the neighboring states,” Lukashevich added.
“What is also extremely dangerous is that terrorists are acting all the more freely,” he said, adding that “efforts should be increased to promote dialog between the Syrian government and opposition” and that “any violence should be immediately stopped and a resolute rebuff should be given to terrorism.”
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011, according to UN figures. Russia, along with China, has faced widespread condemnation over its refusal to approve UN sanctions against Assad’s regime.
However, Moscow has repeatedly stated it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, but is rather concerned that unilateral sanctions would create a power vacuum that would lead to more violence.