Russia: The West Is Blackmailing Us
In other developments, European firms sent equipment to Assad
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2012 12:59 PM CDT
In this citizen journalism image taken on Friday, July 13, 2012 and provided by Edlib News Network ENN, Free Syrian Army soldiers aim their weapons in Idlib province, northern Syria.   (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)

(Newser) – Kofi Annan traveled to Moscow today to try to persuade one of Bashar al-Assad's most persistent allies to put more pressure on the regime, but Russia doesn't appear to be softening its stance. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today accused the West of using "elements of blackmail" to convince it to sign on to a sanction resolution, threatening to end the UN observer mission if Russia doesn't, the BBC reports.

Other Syrian developments include:

  • Even as the West applies pressure on Syria, an AP report reveals that two European companies—one Italian, one Greek—built the regime a nationwide communications network, and didn’t finish it until after the revolution was under way. While they say it was for purely civilian purposes, evidence indicates it was built with the military in mind.
  • Fighting continues to rage in Damascus. Over the weekend defecting Syrian diplomat Nawag Fares told the Daily Telegraph that the regime had directly ordered suicide bombings in the capital, employing the same jihadi group it had previously sent to fight the US in Iraq.
  • Meanwhile, it appears the Free Syrian Army is waging a war on … booze? YouTube videos appear to show rebels setting alcohol ablaze or chucking it out of seized trucks, the Washington Post reports.