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Syria's foreign minister says US, allies support 'terrorism'

In a speech addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said "permanent members of the Security Council have launched wars under the excuse of combating terrorism," and are now "supporting terrorism" in his country.

Syria's foreign minister on Monday accused the United States, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey of supporting "terrorism" in his country by funneling arms, money and foreign fighters to rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad.

Speaking on the last day of the annual 193-nation U.N. General Assembly, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem also accused Libya of backing the rebels and said an arm of the al-Qaida network had taken responsibility for some bomb attacks in Syria.

Moualem said outside calls for Assad to step down amid the 18-month-old conflict were a "blatant interference in the domestic affairs of Syria, and the unity of its people and its sovereignty."


 

"In what context can we classify the explicit request of the United States from the armed terrorist groups not to surrender their arms as a response to amnesty decrees and decisions issued by the Syrian leadership?" Moualem asked, according to Al Jazeera.

Ancient Syrian market being consumed in fire started by fighting

"We also wonder to what extent the statements of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, and France that clearly induce and support terrorism in Syria with money, weapons and foreign fighters, are in line with the international responsibilities of these countries in combating terrorism," Moualem added, according to Al Jazeera. 

In the outskirts of Aleppo, scenes of devastation fueled by the Syrian regime's warplanes have prompted new rebels to volunteer – some still in their teens. NBC's Ann Curry reports.

His speech came three days after countries calling for Assad's ouster met on the sidelines of the General Assembly but announced steps far short of what the rebels wanted as they press ahead in the bloody civil war.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Moualem earlier on Monday and "raised in the strongest terms the continued killings, massive destruction, human rights abuses, and aerial and artillery attacks committed by the government," Ban's spokesman said in a statement.

"He stressed that it was the Syrian people who were being killed every day, and appealed to the Government of Syria to show compassion to its own people," the spokesman said.

Ban raised the growing humanitarian crisis inside Syria, which was also spilling over to neighboring countries, the spokesman added. The United Nations said about 294,000 refugees from Syria had fled into Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.

Qatari leader calls for Arab nations to intervene and 'stop the bloodshed in Syria'

More than 30,000 people have been killed, according to opposition activists, and there are fears the civil war could destabilize the wider Middle East.

NBC's Ann Curry and her crew drove into the area that rebels call 'Free Syria' to report on the growing violence in the country, including an attack just four miles from the border crossing from Turkey that killed six people.

According to the BBC, further violence in Syria was reported Monday, carried out by both sides.

A U.K.-based activist group said 18 soldiers were killed by rebels, the BBC reported, while 30 others were feared dead following an air strike by Syria's armed forces in the town of Salqin.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have denied aiding the rebels. The United States and France have said they are providing "non-lethal" support and not weapons.

"Under the pretext of humanitarian intervention, these countries interfere in the domestic affairs of states, and impose unilateral economic sanctions that lack the moral and legal basis," Moualem said.

"And under the pretext of concepts such as the 'Responsibility to Protect,' drums of war are beaten, and sedition and unrest are spreading and damaging the structure of national societies," he said.

Moualem was referring to a concept about governments' responsibility to protect civilians that has become increasingly popular in Western diplomatic and academic circles. The concept was used to justify last year's military intervention in Libya that led to the ouster and death of leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"Worst of all is to see permanent members of the Security Council, who launched wars under the pretext of combating terrorism, now support terrorism in my country," Moualem said.

At a meeting Friday of countries supporting Assad's ouster, the United States and France announced increased support for the Syrian opposition. But the meeting produced no sign that the direct military aid sought by the rebels to create safe havens for civilians was on the way.

Russia, backed by China, repeatedly has vetoed Western- and Arab-backed council resolutions that criticized the Syrian government and threatened it with sanctions, saying the United States, Europe and Gulf Arabs are seeking regime change.

'Fabricated' aid crisis
Moualem told the U.N. General Assembly that some people had tried to "fabricate a refugee crisis through inciting armed groups to intimidate Syrian civilians in border areas and forcing them to flee into neighboring countries."

"I appeal from this podium to those Syrian citizens to return to their towns and villages where the state will guarantee their safe return and their precious lives away from inhuman conditions they suffer in these camps," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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