Russia, facing widespread criticism, denies bombing civilians in Syria

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By Paul Carrel and Shadia Nasralla MUNICH (Reuters) - France led international criticism of Russia on Saturday for bombing civilians in Syria, a charge Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev rejected as major powers bickered openly just a day after they agreed a pause in combat in Syria. The differences between the stakeholders in a Syria settlement highlighted their lingering divisions despite Friday's "cessation of hostilities" agreement, which was not signed by any of the warring parties on the ground - government forces and the opposition - and does not take effect for a week. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in a head-to-head debate with Medvedev at a security conference in Munich, pressed Russia to stop bombing civilians in Syria, saying this was crucial for achieving peace in the country.