Russian Embassy in Syria Attacked During Pro-Government Rally

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Several hundred people, holding up portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, gather near the Russian embassy in Damascus.Photo: LOUAI BESHARA

On Tuesday, ralliers outside the Russian embassy in Damascus scattered as an artillery shell hit a compound. As people ran away from the event, carrying posters of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad and signs that read “Thanks Russia” and “Syria and Russia are together to fight terrorism,” another shell hit a few dozen yards away from the compound. 

No one was killed, although a few people were reportedly injured.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the attack was “obviously a terrorist act intended to, probably, frighten supporters of the war against terror and prevent them from prevailing in the struggle against extremists. Together with the Syrian authorities, we are now trying to establish those responsible.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the shelling yet — however, rebel groups have hit the Russian embassy a few times before. At the end of last month, Russia began conducting air strikes in Syria. Although the country said it aimed to fight ISIS, the attacks have mostly targeted rebel forces intent on getting rid of Putin’s ally, President Assad. The United States and its allies — who do not think that Assad is an essential ingredient to Syria’s future success — are very frustrated by Russia’s actions, as it threatens to turn the already complex war into an even more protracted affair. 

The recent Russian military attacks … are of deep concern and must cease immediately,” European Union ministers said on Monday. “The military escalation risks prolonging the conflict, undermining a political process, aggravating the humanitarian situation and increasing radicalization.”

As Russia continues its air strikes, the United States has started to drop large shipments of ammo for rebel forces — making it look like, although both sides deny it, the two great passive-aggressive opponents of the 20th century are starting to just fight each other. The opposition has increased its number of attacks as the government experienced its wave of Russia-inspired relief. Lavrov was about as impressed by the United States’ actions as the country was by Russia’s strikes. “We have no doubt,” the foreign minister said, “that a large amount of the ammunition will fall into the hands of terrorists.” A U.S. official told CNN that the ammunition was recovered by rebel forces.