December 10, 2013
Syria compares militant onslaught to 9/11 attacks
Syria's foreign minister has compared what he described as an invasion of foreign terrorists across his country to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, remarks that Washington dismissed as offensive and disingenuous.
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 Takfiri 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. It began in March 2011 when the government tried to crush pro-democracy protests and eventually became a full-scale war. 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 Sept. 11 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.
"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 US mission to the United Nations responded angrily, 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," said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission.
Assad's government accuses Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain, France and the United States of arming, financing and training rebel forces in Syria.