Nobody expected anything to come of the meeting but you would think Assad would call a halt to his committing war crimes while the former UN cheif was in Damascus.
The meeting came as opposition activists reported a new government assault on Idlib. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the government was shelling the Idlib region after tanks moved towards the area in recent days. There was no independent confirmation, but smoke rose into the sky behind some apartment buildings, according to an Associated Press team in the area.
Some families were seen fleeing from the violence, clutching their belongings, or taking shelter.
Reinforcements have been pouring into Idlib for days, including dozens of tanks and armoured personnel carriers, activists said. The operation has raised fears that the regime is planning a new, all-out offensive in Idlib like the bloody siege last month that captured a restive part of the city of Homs, further south.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov sought to defend his country's stance on the crisis to Arab leaders angered by Moscow's blocking tactics. Last month, just as the Homs offensive was heating up, Russia and China vetoed a draft UN security council resolution that would have supported an Arab League peace plan calling on Assad to hand over his powers.
That brought accusations that Russia, a longtime Assad ally, was giving Assad diplomatic cover to intensify his crackdown. "We are not protecting any regimes," Lavrov insisted at a heated session of the Arab League in Cairo on Saturday. "We are protecting international law... We are not looking for a special prize or geopolitical interest here."
Assad is violating international law and Russia says it is protecting it by enabling him to do so. Only a Russian could be so obtuse.