Damascus calls on UN for ‘peaceful political solution’

Assad government asks UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to “prevent any aggression against Syria”

A Syrian girl holds a sign during a demonstration on Sunday in Maaret al-Numan, Idlib province, northern Syria.  Photograph: Edlib News Network ENN/AP

A Syrian girl holds a sign during a demonstration on Sunday in Maaret al-Numan, Idlib province, northern Syria. Photograph: Edlib News Network ENN/AP

Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 07:36

 


The Syrian government yesterday hit back at the US and its allies by asking UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to “assume his responsibilities” and “prevent any aggression against Syria” by those seeking to punish Damascus for allegedly using chemical weapons against civilians.

In a letter, the government also urged the UN to promote a “peaceful political solution to the crisis”.

In a separate development, the Syrian National Co-ordination Committee for Democratic Change, the largest domestic opposition group, has blamed the government for the August 21st chemical attacks that killed hundreds of civilians. However, it warned against punitive US military action.

“The use of chemical weapons . . . is a key turning point in the bloody conflict,” the committee stated. “All of those who contributed to this horrendous crime should be punished. The regime holds primary responsibility.

“The crime was carried out in an area controlled by armed members of the opposition and during bombing of the area by government forces.”

However, the group, which includes leftist, nationalist and Kurdish parties, said it was against “any military aggression by the United States or its allies in response to the attack”.


Extremist forces
Such action “would be in the interests of extremist forces taking part in the bloody conflict and would not serve to bring about democratic change”.

Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi said a “military option is out of the question” although the 22-member organisation holds the government responsible for the alleged chemical attack. He said UN experts who investigated the sites of suspected attacks “do not have the powers to say who committed this . . . so all the inspectors will say is that chemical weapons have been used.”

He said the “UN, as the official representative of the international community [could] take action to stop those who committed this crime.”

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political adviser dismissed concerns that a US strike against Syria could prompt Damascus to retaliate against Turkey. Yalcin Akdogan said that an attack on Turkey, a larger and better-armed Nato member, would be “madness and suicide”.

Seven million Syrians, one-third of the population, have been displaced while international humanitarian aid has been a “drop in the sea” of misery.

Donor countries have delivered less than one-third of funds needed to help the internally displaced and refugees dwelling in nearby countries, said UN refugee agency representative in Syria Tarik Kurdi.