September 30, 2013
Walid al-Moallem, addressing world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, also charged that the U.S., Britain and France had blocked the naming of the real perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which he blamed on the opposition.
President Barack Obama told the same forum last week that it was the President Bashar Assad’s regime that was behind a chemical weapons attack in August that killed hundreds in the Damascus suburbs and brought threats of a retaliatory U.S. strike.
After the U.S. threatened to attack Syria, the Assad regime committed to getting rid of its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The U.N. Security Council then voted unanimously on Friday to oblige it to do so based on a plan made by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The resolution broke 2-1/2 years of paralysis on the Syria conflict in the Security Council.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky was asked after the speech why the U.N. was not assigning blame for the chemical weapons attacks in Syria. He said that U.N. guidelines mandate that U.N. inspection teams determine whether chemical weapons were used, but not who used them.
Syria’s main opposition group in exile called al-Moallem’s speech “an attempt to hide from the world a totalitarian regime’s systematic and indiscriminate attacks against its own people.” The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said the minister “denied the Assad regime’s fundamental responsibility for creating and perpetuating this conflict.”
Syria’s civil war, raging for 2-1/2 years, had killed more than 100,000 people.