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Politics

Syria: There Is No Civil War Here

The country’s foreign minister tells the U.N. that the West is on the wrong side of Syria’s “war on terror.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

photo of Marina Koren
September 30, 2013

The majority of speeches by world leaders at this year's United Nations General Assembly debate have one thing in common: They recognize the ongoing conflict in Syria.

With one day left in the weeklong conference, Syria took its turn at the podium Monday at the U.N. headquarters in New York. The conflict so many world leaders mentioned, said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, isn't a civil war—it's a "war on terror." "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," he said. The leader then painted a gruesome picture for the General Assembly:

The scenes of murder, manslaughter, and eating human hearts were shown on TV screens, but did not touch blind consciences. In my country, Mr. President, there are innocent civilians whose heads are put on the grill just because they violate the extremist ideology and deviant views of al-Qaida. In Syria, ladies and gentlemen, there are murderers who dismember human bodies into pieces while still alive and send their limbs to their families, just because those citizens are defending a unified and secular Syria.

 

The "murderers" referred to here are members of the Syrian opposition, which Moallem, as well as his supporters such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, say were behind the Aug. 21 chemical-weapons attack that reportedly killed more than 1,400 civilians. And the rebels, he said, got the sarin gas used in the attack from "regional and Western countries that are well-known to all of us."

Moallem said the same terrorism that led to 9/11 is the root of the Syrian conflict. "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?" "Some countries" include the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Turkey.

Last December, President Obama recognized the opposition, known as the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, "as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people." The U.S. concluded a month ago that the Syrian government, not the opposition, was behind the chemical attacks. A U.N. investigation confirmed the use of sarin gas, but did not determine who was behind the attacks.

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