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September 02, 2013

Syrian Govt, State Media Blast Western 'Aggression'

by Edward Yeranian

A top Syrian official says armed groups backed by the United States were responsible for alleged chemical weapons attacks, not Syrian troops. Syria's government vows to defend itself against what it calls “unjust aggression."

Syrian state TV showed video of rockets being launched, tanks on the move, and troops marching as martial music played in the background. State announcers said Damascus was prepared for any potential foreign attack.

Syrian Army troops and pro-government militias reportedly continue to move military assets and command-and-control centers away from airports and army bases to targets less likely to be hit. Witnesses said rocket launchers and Grad missiles had been spotted in some schools.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad accused the United States of being responsible for the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with the BBC. He appealed to U.S. lawmakers to “use wisdom” when considering potential strikes against his country.

Meqdad went on to liken U.S. claims that it had proof Damascus used chemical weapons against rebel targets on August 21 to accusations that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in the buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Syrian media and the government continued to argue Islamist extremists and terrorists are leading the battle against the government. State TV poked fun at a group of bearded Islamic extremists issuing fatwahs and declaring people “heretics.”

In Damascus, rebel mortar shells struck the top floor of a residential building in government territory, setting it ablaze.

On an amateur video, a resident of one rebel-held eastern suburb of Damascus describes an ongoing government blockade of the area and intermittent shelling. Government forces have been trying to retake rebel-held suburbs that surround the capital.