News / Middle East

Syria: 'Don't Prejudge Us' on Chemical Weapons

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem speaks during a news conference in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 27, 2013.
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem speaks during a news conference in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 27, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has denied again that his government used chemical weapons and he insists that Damascus is cooperating completely with a U.N. investigation team. Members of that U.N. team are awaiting permission to visit a new site, after visiting Madhamiya, a suburb of the capital, on Monday.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem told journalists that he had a "friendly" 10-minute conversation by telephone Monday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, but he declined to give any details.

Muallem said on Tuesday that Damascus is cooperating fully with the U.N. inspectors and he said that Western nations are presuming Syria's guilt even before the investigation is complete.

Muallem said the allegations that government forces used chemical weapons in Damascus last week are not true. He contends the chemical-weapons accusations are a “pretext” - a false charge circulated by outside powers that want to “invade Damascus ... and then go on to attack Iran.”

The Syrian foreign minister said the U.S. and its allies are pressuring the U.N. team to conclude that Syria carried out last week's devastating attack on civilians. He added the Western powers "talk about international law while they break it themselves."

Britain has accused Damascus of “hiding evidence” from the U.N. inspectors, Muallem said, but that is “impossible... since the evidence lies in areas controlled by [rebel forces].”

Suspected chemical weapon attack sites in DamascusSuspected chemical weapon attack sites in Damascus
x
Suspected chemical weapon attack sites in Damascus
Suspected chemical weapon attack sites in Damascus
Muallem said Syria will “defend itself with everything at its disposition,” if necessary, and that his government expects allies Russia and Iran will “not let Damascus down.”

In Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said the chemical-weapons attack was "an awful and ugly crime" that must be punished as an "international violation of human rights."

Arab states meeting on the crisis in Syria voted to condemn President Bashar al-Assad's government over the chemical-weapons incident.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Ali Arakji said his government “warns [Western states] strongly against any attack on Syria,” because that would “have awful repercussions on the entire region and would not be confined to Syria.”

The U.N. Undersecretary-general for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, is due to confer by Wednesday with top Iranian leaders.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
August 28, 2013 1:47 AM
who are trying to blame Syrian government for the chemical attack without any evidence? The USA and its allies. The USA was to blame for the death of thousands of innocent people in Vietnam with a chemical called "Orange Agent" but it refused to call it a kind of chemical weapon. The evidence is very clear and people in the world know that crime very well. Why the UN still let the USA get away with it so easily? it is compeletely unfair.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs