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Syrian FM warns West against attack on Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem arrives for a press conference in the capital Damascus, on June 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem arrives for a press conference in the capital Damascus, on June 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA

London and Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem accused the US of preparing to attack Syria, in breach of international law during a news conference in Damascus on Tuesday.

He called on the American people to accept that what their government was saying about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons was “not true,” and challenged the US government to provide evidence of their claims.

He also said British Foreign Secretary William Hague was giving “misinformation” about the use of chemical attack by the Syrian government.

Mouallem spoke after officials and leaders from the US, UK, and France said that the Syrian government had attacked a district of eastern Damascus with chemical weapons last Wednesday, reportedly killing hundreds of civilians.

In response, leaders from the three countries said that they were considering military action.

US Secretary of State John Kerry held a news conference in Washington on Monday in which he said the Syrian government proved it had something to hide by delaying permission for inspectors to investigate the attack.

Kerry said the attack “defied the code of morality,” adding that “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on Sunday that the British government was certain that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack. He said that “if the regime believed somebody else had carried out this attack then they would have given access to the UN inspectors several days ago.”

Turkey, meanwhile, announced on Monday that it was prepared to participate in an international coalition outside the umbrella of the United Nations, in order to respond to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

Turkish sources said on Monday that meetings were being held in the Izmir Air Base, which is thought to be the planned command center for any military operation against Syria. He added that around 50 Turkish and foreign military and security officials were considering all options and possible scenarios.

Meanwhile, Russia has warned against military action in Syria without UN approval. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, said on Monday that if war did start, Russia would not take sides. Lavrov added that the West had not provided proof that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack in Damascus.

The Saudi Council of Ministers on Monday appealed to the international community to take responsibility towards the suffering of the Syrian people. The appeal came in a meeting of the ministers in Jeddah chaired by second deputy prime minister, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz.

In the meantime, United Nations inspectors yesterday completed an inspection of the Eastern Ghouta area which was the site of the chemical attack on Wednesday August 21. The inspectors returned to their hotel after spending three hours at the scene but refused to give a statement.

Thair Abbas and Caroline Akoum contributed to reporting

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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