Russia to critics: We’re not protecting Syria

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CAIRO (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says his government is not “protecting any regimes,” speaking to Arab leaders angry over Moscow’s blocking of international pressure on Syria’s president to step down.

Speaking in Cairo at an Arab League meeting Saturday, Lavrov says Russia is not trying to protect the regime in Damascus but to “protect international law” and “promote a peaceful resolution” to Syria’s crisis.

Lavrov, whose country is Syria’s top ally, says the immediate mission now it to halt violence and enable humanitarian assistance to reach those in need in Syria.

Russia angered many Arab governments last month by vetoing a draft U.N. resolution that would have pressured Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.