BLAMING OTHERS: In a Tuesday press conference, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem reiterated his government’s theory that Syria’s enemies are plotting against it.
Speaking at the Foreign Ministry in Damascus to an audience of journalists from pro-regime networks, Muallem said the “conspiring countries” have been planning for a long time to initiate a military strike on Syria. As he spoke, American military leaders were meeting with European and regional leaders in Amman to discuss the situation in Syria.
Muallem then addressed allegations that the regime has employed neurotoxic gas against its people, including a Wednesday attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed an estimated 1,500 people.
“These videos depicting chemical attacks surfaced on the Internet because of the preemptive strikes our forces executed on terrorist strongholds, ” Muallem said, referencing the mounting evidence that the regime is employing the internationally prohibited chemical weapon. He insisted that the Syrian government is opposed to the idea of these weapons.
The Foreign Minister added, however, that “if we face an attack, we have two choices: surrender or defend ourselves with all available options,” but did not specify which options.
Muallem also confirmed that Iran still supports Assad, saying that “our Iranian brothers do not make deals behind our backs.”
He added that the UN inspectors said there would be no need to visit Khan al-Assal, where a March 19th sarin gas attack killed 30 people, because five months had passed. Muallem said that the team instead asked for evidence and eyewitnesses to be brought to Damascus.
The UN Chemical Weapons Team arrived in Damascus on Saturday, but their convoy was targeted by sniper fire on Monday as it traveled to inspect the town of Moadamiyat al-Sham, the site of Wednesday’s attack.
In a Monday statement, UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon confirmed the incident and promised that inspectors would return to the site. Video courtesy of al-Jadeed online