UPDATE 1-Russia blames "terrorist" Assad foes for Aleppo blasts

Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:12am EST

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MOSCOW Jan 16 (Reuters) - Russia on Wednesday condemned blasts that killed 87 people in the Syrian city of Aleppo and blamed the explosions on "terrorists" it said were seeking revenge for losses in the conflict with government forces.

Each side in Syria's 22-month-old conflict blamed the other for Tuesday's blasts at the university, located in a government-held area of the northern city, Syria's most populous. Russia said foes of President Bashar al-Assad were responsible.

"We condemn the latest mass killing of innocent people in Syria in the most decisive way," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that the entire international community should take "a similarly uncompromising position toward terrorism."

"It is clear that this was a ruthless, bloody provocation, revenge by terrorists for significant losses they have sustained in the confrontation with government forces," ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

"We particularly note that this terrorist attack took place in an atmosphere in which normal life had begun to gradually return to the majority of the city's districts," Zakharova said.

Russia reiterated calls for an end to the conflict and the search for a resolution based on an agreement reached by global powers in Geneva last June which called for creation of a transitional government. Russia says Assad's exit from power must not be a precondition for a settlement deal.

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