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Days after vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia has sent its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Damascus. Assad supporters lined the streets in the city to greet one of Assad's few foreign friends.
The Telegraph reports that Lavrov is in the country to propose a plan to end the crisis and give Russia a diplomatic role in the country. "We confirmed our readiness to act for a rapid solution to the crisis based on the plan put forward by the Arab League," he said.
On Monday, the U.S. pulled their ambassador to Syria and shuttered their embassy in Damascus. Italy, Britain, and France have also removed their ambassadors from the country. And Tuesday, the Gulf Cooperation Council—a union of countries bordering the Persian Gulf—announced that they have recalled their ambassadors to Syria and will expel Syrian envoys from their countries, due to the country's rejection of "Arab attempts" to solve the crisis there, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, Syrian forces continue to bombard the city of Homs, which saw most of Monday's 128 casualties, according to CNN. Hundreds have been killed in the city since the weekend. Some have accused Russia and China—the two countries vetoing last weekend's U.N. Security Council resolution—of encouraging Syria to step up attacks on Homs.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice warned after the U.N. vote that Russia and China “will have any future blood spill on their hands.” Lavrov, as the BBC notes, has dismissed the reaction to the veto as "hysteria."
Over 6,000 people have died in Syria as a result of the government's crackdown on protesters in the past 11 months, the U.N. estimates.
The BBC has a reporter in Homs. He says the attacks on the city are mortar and heavy machine-gun fire, and that Russian-made tanks have been spotted close to the city center. Russia is Syria's main arms supplier, and the Syrian city of Tartus holds Russia's only Mediterranean naval base.*
In other news concerning Syria today, two Syrians have been arrested for spying on Syrian opposition activists in Germany, the BBC reports.
*Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly reported that Russia's only naval base is in the city of Tartus. The Syrian city is home to Russia's only Mediterranean naval base.