Syria is “genuinely worried” some countries might equip extremist groups with chemical weapons and then claim they were used by the Syrian government, the country’s UN envoy said in a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council.
Bashar Ja’afari, Syria’s UN ambassador, also accused the US government of supporting “terrorists” in Syria and waging a campaign that claims Syria could use chemical weapons in the 20-month-old civil war that has killed at least 40,000 people.
The US says it is sending only humanitarian aid and non-lethal assistance to Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s opponents, but acknowledges some allies are arming the rebels.
Assad’s government acc-uses Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the US, and Western governments of supporting and arming the rebels, an allegation the governments deny.
“We have repeatedly stated publicly and through diplomatic channels that Syria will not under any circumstances use any chemical weapons that it may have, because it is defending its people from terrorists backed by well-known states, at the forefront of which is the United States of America,” said Ja’afari.
“We are genuinely worried that certain states that support terrorism and terrorists could provide the armed terrorist groups with chemical weapons, and then claim they had been used by the Syrian government,” he wrote in the letter, which was dated Dec 8 but made public yesterday.
Damascus has accused Western powers of backing what it says is a Sunni Islamist “terrorist” campaign to topple Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect affiliated with Shi’ite Islam.
It has said US and European concerns about Assad’s forces possibly resorting to chemical weapons could serve as a pretext for preparing military intervention.
Western military experts say Syria has four suspected chemical weapons sites.
“States such as the United States of America that have used chemical and similar weapons are in no position to launch such a campaign, particularly because, in 2003, they used the pretext of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction in order to justify their invasion and occupation,” Ja’afari wrote.
“Since the issue was raised, Syria has stated countless times that it will not under any circumstances use any chemical weapons that it may have against its own people,” he said.
“The government of the Syrian Arab Republic warns that the terrorist groups could use those weapons against the Syrian people.”
Ban has expressed alarm at the worsening violence in Syria, including the reported mass killing of Alawites and alleged firing of long-range missiles on Syrian territory.
He spoke to Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al Moualem, yesterday morning to voice concern over reports of Syrian fighter jets bombing the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 25 people.
The foreign minister told Ban that Palestinians should not offer “shelter or assistance to terrorist groups” in the Yarmouk refugee camp, state television said.
The 15-member UN Security Council has been incapable of taking any meaningful action in the conflict. Russia and China refuse to condemn Assad or support sanctions.
It comes a day after Syrian vice-president Farouq al Sharaa said neither the forces of Assad nor rebels seeking to overthrow him can win the war which is now being fought on the outskirts of Assad’s powerbase in Damascus.
Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power structure dominated by Assad’s Alawite minority, has rarely been seen since the Syrian revolt erupted in Mar 2011 and is not part of the president’s inner circle directing the fight against Sunni rebels.
But he is the most prominent figure to say in public that Assad will not win. He was speaking to the pro-Assad al-Akhbar paper in an interview from Damascus.
Sharaa said the situation in Syria was deteriorating and a “historic settlement” was needed to end the conflict, involving regional powers and the UN Security Council and the formation of a national unity government “with broad powers”.
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