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Syria peace talks: Assad foes face off with supporters at key meeting

Philippe Desmazes / AFP – Getty Images

Anti-Assad activists near the venue of the Geneva II peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

MONTREAUX, Switzerland -- It was not just the delegates at the Syria peace talks on Wednesday who were in heated disagreement -- protesters from both sides traveled to the Swiss city of Montreux to make their voices heard.

"Assad is a criminal, a human criminal who committed a genocide in Syria by attacking its people with gas and chemical weapons," said Syrian Wael Al Hafez near the Geneva II talks in the Swiss city of Montreaux.

"We're here for the revolution in Syria which will continue until we will achieve liberty and democracy."

In a macabre display of street theater, a row of anti-regime demonstrators played dead, lying under bloodied white cloth, while a man wearing an Assad mask and blood-stained hands stood over them.

Salvatore Di Nolfi / AP

Demonstrators show their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in Montreux.

Others, such as Mark Yamin, were among the handful of people near the venue for the talks who were flying the Syrian flag in support of Assad.

"I came here with my family and friends to show the world that were behind our president," said Yamin, a Syrian living in Germany. "We love him and we want him and we will fight for him.

"We’re fighting for this country to destroy the terrorist in our country. I want to tell all the people of the world that we will live in freedom and we will not accept a new world order."

Disagreements even boiled over between journalists covering Geneva II. One journalist, seemingly pro-Assad, had a loud argument with an apparently anti-Assad journalist that lasted for a few minutes.

Conference organizers broke up the spat.

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