A leading Chinese newspaper has accused western countries of stirring up civil war in Syria, where police and militia patrols have clamped down on a district of the capital to prevent further demonstrations against the president, Bashar al-Assad.
After almost a year of protests against Assad's 11-year rule, the uprising has moved to his centre of power in Damascus, where the security police surrounded a funeral of a young protester on Sunday to ensure there was no repeat of some of biggest demonstrations in the capital, says The Guardian.
China's Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, in a front page commentary, said the West's support of the opposition and its demands for Assad to step down could provoke a "large-scale civil war" that might demand foreign intervention.
China and Russia angered the West and Arab states this month by blocking a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that backed an Arab plan demanding Assad step aside. If the Security Council had passed the resolution backing the Arab League, that would only have lead to more violence, Qu King, whom the newspaper identified as a foreign affairs expert, wrote in the article, reports Reuters.
There has been a growing call among some in the international community to arm the opposition, which is best described as a network of faceless activist and opposition groups that include a loosely organized rebel army and militias. But not everyone, including the United States, is in agreement.
"I think it's premature to make a decision to arm the opposition movement in Syria, because I would challenge anyone to clearly identify for me the opposition movement in Syria at this point," Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS.", according to CNN.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said forces continued to shell the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, which has been under government attack since Feb. 4. The Observatory, which has activists throughout Syria, said 23 buses full of troops along with military vehicles and ambulances were seen heading from Damascus toward Homs.
The group also said troops stormed the eastern town of Sukhna searching for fugitive members of the opposition, and that one woman was shot dead during the raids. It said two other people were killed by troops in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour and the northern village of Atareb, informs Boston.com.