Tens of thousands of Syrians amassed along the roads of Damascus on Tuesday morning, 7 February, to welcome Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, in the wake of that country’s veto, in tandem with China, at the Security Council.

The Russian Minister was accompanied by the Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Vladimir Zimakov, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Sergey Vershinin, and Russia’s Ambassador to Damascus Azamat Kulmukhametov.

For the Syrian people, Mr. Lavrov’s visit holds out the hope of coming out of a nightmare that has lasted now for ten months. Most of all, it is the specter of a direct intervention by NATO troops in their country that is receding.

Nonetheless, on the Mazzeh highway where the crowd had clustered in the morning, an uninterrupted succession of ambulances streamed in from the outskirts of Damascus during the whole day.

Indeed, the regular army has intensified its offensive against the armed groups that plague the country. Armed clashes are currently taking place in Homs and Douma, an outlying area of Damascus, which are the main hubs of the interference in Syria. Now that she is confident of Russia’s and China’s support and that the presence of gangs has been certified, in particular by the Arab League observer mission report, Syria can now protect its people.

While civilians have long called for the intervention of the army, the Syrian state was unable to take action because of the ban imposed by the Arab League to send troops to cities. The Syrian government was trapped in the following situation: either it allowed its population to be terrorized by the armed gangs or it intervened militarily, and in this case risk being condemned as a regime to be stopped at all costs.

Now that respect for international law is guaranteed by Russia and China, the Syrian state can finally "assume its responsibility" as Mr. Lavrov stressed at the beginning of his meeting with President al-Assad.