Russia, China and Iran showed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday, days before an international meeting likely to pile more pressure on him to step down in the face of an increasingly bloody uprising.
Assad met a senior Russian politician in Damascus, who reiterated Moscow’s support for his self-styled reform programme and spoke out against any foreign intervention in the conflict, Russian and Syrian news agencies reported.
China accused Western countries of stirring up civil war in Syria, and two Iranian warships docked at a Syrian naval base, underscoring rising international tensions over the near year-long crisis.
Government forces pressed on with their crackdown on the anti-Assad uprising, with opposition activists reporting five people killed in renewed shelling of an opposition-held district of Homs and troops and militia blockading Hama. Both cities have been in the forefront of the revolt.