October 1, 2013 - 09:08 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Syria's Foreign Minister on Monday, Sept 30, compared what he described as an invasion of foreign terrorists across his country to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
According to Reuters, in a speech to the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem also said that "terrorists from more than 83 countries are engaged in the killing of our people and our army" under the appeal of global jihad.
"There is no civil war in Syria, but it is a war against terror that recognizes no values, nor justice, nor equality, and disregards any rights or laws," Moualem said.
The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's 2-1/2 year conflict as rebels fight against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad's government. Now more than half of Syria's 20 million people need aid.
"The people of New York have witnessed the devastations of terrorism, and were burned with the fire of extremism and bloodshed, the same way we are suffering now in Syria," Moualem said, referring to the September 11 attacks carried out by the al Qaeda network that brought down the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon outside Washington.
"How can some countries, hit by the same terrorism we are suffering now in Syria, claim to fight terrorism in all parts of the world while supporting it in my country?" he said.
The U.S. mission to the United Nations responded by saying Moualem's comment was "as disingenuous as it is offensive," adding that his statements "have no credibility."
"The fact that the Syrian regime has shelled schools and hospitals and used chemical weapons on its own people demonstrates that it has adopted the very terrorist tactics that it today decried," U.S. mission spokeswoman Erin Pelton said.
Assad's government accuses Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain, France and the United States of arming, financing and training rebel forces in Syria.
The opposition Syrian Coalition described Moualem's UN speech as misleading. "The extremists and terrorists do not represent the opposition," the coalition said in a statement.
Last week the UN Security Council achieved a rare moment of unity on the Syrian war by passing a resolution demanding the elimination of Syria's chemical arsenal by mid-2014. Russia supported the resolution, which was based on a U.S.-Russian plan agreed upon in Geneva.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments published on Monday that Russia wants to revive plans for a conference on ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction now that Syria has pledged to abandon its chemical arms.
Moualem said the Syrian government is committed to fulfilling its obligations after having acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention that bans the use of such weapons. But he repeated the government's position that it is the rebels who have been using poison gas, not forces loyal to Assad.
"Terrorists, who used poisonous gases in my country, have received chemical agents from regional and Western countries that are well known to all of us," he said.
The United Nations has received reports of at least 14 chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The most recent was an August 21 sarin gas attack in a Damascus suburb that the United States says killed more than 1,400 people, many of them children. The United States and its allies blame Assad's government for the attack, while the government blames the rebels.