Syrian Dictator Urges UN to Act Against U.S. and Others It Accuses of Supporting Terrorists

By Patrick Goodenough | April 17, 2017 | 4:34am EDT
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets with soldiers in the town of Marj al-Sultan east of Damascus. (Photo: Syrian Presidency/Instagram)

( – The Assad regime on Sunday called on the United Nations to act against the United States and other governments that it says support terrorists in Syria.

The call for action follows a suicide bombing that killed scores of civilians, many of them children, during a humanitarian evacuation effort.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Security Council presidency – held this month by the United States – the regime’s foreign ministry blamed “the terrorists and their masters” for Saturday’s blast, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says killed 126 people, including at least 80 children.

“This coward attack comes as a response by the terrorists and their masters to the achievements made by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies and their success in confronting the terrorist organizations of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS and their affiliated entities in many Syrian areas,” the letter read.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said the letter ended with a call on the U.N. “to condemn this criminal attack, punish their perpetrators and bring the governments that support terrorist organizations, on top of them, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the U.S. and Britain, to justice, and force them carry out U.N. relevant resolutions …”

In an attack labeled as “vile” by Pope Francis in an Easter Sunday address, a suicide bomber in a vehicle reportedly targeted residents of two government-controlled, rebel-besieged towns, Foua and Kafraya, who were waiting in a transit area to be evacuated to areas controlled by regime forces.

Under an agreement reached between the regime and rebel groups, residents of two other towns, Madaya and Zabadani – in those cases held by rebels and besieged by government forces – were at the same time to be evacuated to a rebel-held zone.

The wording of the letter from Damascus is in line with President Bashar al-Assad’s contention – reiterated in a televised interview last week – that the U.S. and other Western and Arab states are supporting “terrorist” groups in their effort to overthrow him.

The U.S. and other outside parties are openly supporting some rebel groups in Syria, but they say this is in the common fight against ISIS jihadists, not Assad. That fight is currently focused on a push towards ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate capital in Syria, Raqqa.

The regime uses the term “terrorist” to cover all anti-Assad groups. Together with its Russian ally, it accuses the U.S. of covertly supporting the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra in particular, in a bid to topple Assad.

Wrangling over culpability came to a head after the recent chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province, which the U.S. and its allies blame on the regime. The regime and Moscow suggest it was a “false flag” operation aimed at attracting outside intervention against Assad.

The letter to the U.N. called on the international community to prioritize the combating of terrorists in coordination with the Syrian government, “and to stop attempts of misleading.”

Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary-general condemned the attack and underlined the need to bring those responsible to justice.

The State Department condemned Saturday’s attack, and said the U.S. remains “firmly committed to defeating terrorists, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, as our top priority in Syria.”

“We deplore any act that sustains and empowers extremists on all sides including today’s attacks, as well as forced migration, increased displacement, and all forms of violence directed against civilians in Syria, “ said spokesman Mark Toner.

Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary on Sunday described Assad as an “arch terrorist” for using toxic gas against civilians in Khan Sheikhun on April 4, and urged Russia to distance itself from him.

In a London Sunday Telegraph column, he dismissed Assad’s “absurd and mendacious denials” of responsibility, saying Britain, the U.S. and key allies all “believe that this was highly likely to be an attack by Assad, on his own people, using poison gas weapons that were banned almost 100 years ago.”

Johnson praised President Trump’s decision to order a punitive cruise missile strike against a Syrian airbase, contrasting his willingness to take “timely, appropriate and essential” action with the situation in 2013, when Assad “learnt that he could cross the ‘red lines’ of the West with impunity.”

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