The Washington Post

Syrian foreign minister: Assad can’t stop the violence

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem blamed Turkey for the ongoing violence in Syria and claimed the United States was supporting “terrorist” rebel groups there in an interview with the New York-based news site Al-Monitor.

Walid Moallem, foreign minister of Syria, addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on Oct. 1, 2012. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

Speaking with reporters Laura Rozen and Andrew Parasiliti, Moallem said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not in hiding, but rather is in Damascus “doing his duty.”

He claimed it’s not within Assad’s power to stop the conflict, which has been raging for more than 20 months now and has cost at least 20,000 lives.

View Photo Gallery: Violence escalates between government and opposition forces in key Syrian cities.

“If ending the violence was in the hands of the Syrian government, then I assure you we would have ended it yesterday,” Moallem said. “Unfortunately, it is not a Syrian government decision. It is in fact Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, who are arming, hosting, and financing these armed groups. So the decision is there.”

Moallem blamed Turkey, a former Syrian ally, in particular for mobilizing troops to fight against Syrian forces.

“In fact, they [Turkey] destroyed what we built during the 10 years of relations,” he said. “They’re causing the bloodshed. They are hosting terrorist groups and sending them to Syria. They mobilize their armed forces to the border. All these hostile policies and activities put the Turkish role in question.”

Meanwhile, he said Iran is playing no role on the ground. Previously, Iran has pledged support for the Syrian government and is suspected of providing weapons to Syrian troops.

“I assure you no Iranian whatsoever is playing a role on the ground. The only thing Iran is trying to help by initiatives . . . to solve the crisis.”

Other highlights from the interview:

On Israel:

“I assure you that Israel is not ready for peace. Israel wants to impose peace, but not to have a peace treaty which is fair for both sides.”

On American support for the rebels:

“For that, I don’t understand why at this juncture in Syria they are helping, supporting a terrorist group.”

On Washington:

Al-Monitor:   And do you miss — I know you were in Washington for 10 years? Do you —

Moallem:  Yes. I miss Washington a lot.

More world news coverage:

- Haiti takes on dreaded disease elephantiasis

- Pakistani women drive retail boom

- Three NATO soldiers killed in Afghan suicide bombing

- Read more headlines from around the world


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