A pre-Baath Syrian flag used by the Syrian opposition at the opening of the Arab League summit in Doha on March 26, 2013
A pre-Baath Syrian flag, currently used by the Syrian opposition, is seen in front of the seat of the Syrian delegation at the opening of the Arab League summit in the Qatari capital Doha on March 26, 2013. Russia on Wednesday called the Arab League's decision to award Syria's seat at the organisation to the anti-regime National Coalition "illegal and indefensible". © Karim Sahib - AFP
A pre-Baath Syrian flag used by the Syrian opposition at the opening of the Arab League summit in Doha on March 26, 2013
AFP
Last updated: March 27, 2013

Syrian opposition's Arab League seat illegal, says Russia

Russia on Wednesday called the Arab League's decision to award Syria's seat at the organisation to the anti-regime National Coalition "illegal and indefensible".

"In terms of international law, the League's decision on Syria is illegal and indefensible because the government of the Syrian Arab Republic was and is the legitimate representative member-state at the United Nations," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Syrian opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib took Syria's seat at the League on Tuesday as Arab leaders gathered in Doha for their annual summit. The move sparked a furious reaction from Damascus.

Russia is viewed as one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's few allies because it vetoed three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against his government.

The foreign ministry noted that Khatib used the opportunity in Doha to call for the establishment of internationally-enforced no-fly zones over areas in Syria controlled by the armed opposition.

It then accused the Arab League -- an organisation with which it has had tense ties throughout the two-year-long conflict -- of effectively supporting a military solution to the conflict instead of peace talks.

"We are talking about the expression of open support for forces that unfortunately continue to bet on a military solution in Syria, without looking back at the suffering of Syrians, which is growing by the day," said the statement.

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