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Russian President Warns Assad as Violence Continues

Dmitry Medvedev warns Bashar Assad to prepare for “a sad fate”. Meanwhile, the death toll in Hama rises to 300.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/6/2011, 9:45 PM

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Syrian President Bashar Assad on Friday to prepare for “a sad fate” if he fails to enact reforms in his country, the British Telegraph reported.

According to the report, Medvedev, in his toughest comments on Syria to date, said time was running out for Assad to halt a crackdown against his people.

Medvedev hinted that the Kremlin, a traditional ally of Syria, may support tough action against Damascus in the United Nations if the bloodshed continues.

“People are dying there (in Syria) in large numbers, and that is causing us huge concern,” said Medvedev. “Assad needs to urgently launch reforms, make peace with the opposition, restore civil order and create a modern state. If he cannot do that, a sad fate awaits him, and we will also be forced to ultimately take some decisions on Syria.”

Medvedev’s comments came after on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Assad’s troops have killed more than 2,000 people so far, and called for a “louder, more effective” international response to violence in Syria. There is no talk, however, of NATO action as is going on in Libya, with the UN finally condemning the violence only last week.

But as Assad was being condemned, the violence throughout Syria continued on Friday. Tens of thousands of anti-regime protesters took to the streets across the country in defiance of a lethal five day military crackdown centered in the city of Hama.

According to a report on Al Arabiya TV, at least 58 civilians were killed by the Syrian army in Hama on Friday alone, raising the death toll in the flashpoint city to 300 in six days.

Witnesses told Al Arabiya that Hama residents could not attend the weekly Friday prayers in mosques because of the heavy shooting and shelling by tanks and security forces.

According to the report, seven people were killed in Irbin, two in Damir, and one in Maadamiya, all near Damascus, and three in Homs.

In an attempt to calm down the protests, Assad issued on Thursday a new legislative decree that will allow for the formation of new political parties.

This decree, however, was dismissed across the board due to the fact that new parties formed would have to commit themselves to the Syrian constitution, which in its current form guarantees the supremacy of Assad’s Baath Party.