DAMASCUS (AFP) - Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad vowed Sunday to continue protests until his "tyrannical" regime is overthrown, as the embattled leader praised Moscow's "balanced" position on the unrest in a meeting with Russian lawmakers. "We need to end the tyrannical security regime. We must overthrow the tyranny and the security (agents). We welcome all those who have no blood on their hands," said Hassan Abdel Azim, a member of the opposition National Coordinating Committee for Democratic Change. The group including Arab and Kurdish nationalists, Marxists and independent figures such as writer Michel Kilo and economist Aref Dalila, met near the capital on Saturday to discuss how to end the crisis. Syria has been rocked by protests against Assad that began on March 15 and triggered a brutal crackdown in which the United Nations says 2,600 people have been killed. Assad Sunday praised Moscow's "balanced" position on Syria, in talks with a Russian delegation on a mission to help end the government crackdown on protesters. Assad welcomed the "balanced and constructive Russian position toward the security and stability of Syria," the state-run SANA news agency reported. It said Assad denounced "attempts to destabilise Syria through armed terrorist operations, both civilian and military," and warned against "any foreign intervention that threatens to divide states in the region." Assad's govt has blamed the protests on "armed terrorist gangs." Russia has continued to support Assad despite the crackdown on protests that the United Nations estimates to have killed around 2,600 people, and has been a bulwark against any Security Council resolution condemning the regime. Ilyas Umakhanov, deputy head of Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, held discussions with Assad that were "open, trust-based and substantial," Russia's Interfax news agency said.