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Russia accuses Libya of harboring Syria rebels

Russia’s UN envoy on Wednesday accused the Libyan government of supporting a training camp for Syrian rebels who attack Damascus government targets.

The allegations by Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin set off a diplomatic furor with Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib at the UN Security Council.

“We have received information that there is in Libya, with the support of the authorities, a special training center for Syrian revolutionaries and these people are sent to Syria to attack the legal government,” Churkin told a council meeting on Libya.

“This is completely unacceptable according to all legal standards. This activity is undermining stability in the Middle East.

“We think that Al-Qaeda is in Syria. And now there is the question — is the export of revolution being turned into export of terrorism?” Churkin added.

Russia is Syria’s closest ally as well as a fierce critic of Western action in support of the rebel fighters who brought down Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi. Russia and China have vetoed two resolutions on Syria at the council.

The Russian envoy made a new demand that NATO apologize for the deaths of civilians in attacks in Libya last year and pay compensation. China backed calls for a further investigation into the deaths.

The comments brought a stern rebuke from the Libyan prime minister and US ambassador Susan Rice.

Kib said the Libyan government had investigated all civilian deaths with NATO’s cooperation.

“This matter which concerns the blood of Libyans should not be a matter of political propaganda for one country against any other country,” he told the council.

“I hope that the reason for raising this matter will not be to impede or prevent the international community from interfering in the situation of other states where their people are being massacred,” Kib said.