News / Middle East

Syria Vows 'Surprise' Against Western Military Strike

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, August 27, 2013.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, August 27, 2013.
VOA News
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem is vowing to strike back at any Western military attack with what he calls "surprise" defenses.

Moallem on Tuesday said Syria is hearing war drums. He said the West is using allegations of chemical weapons as an excuse to attack.

He again denied that the Syrian government has used such weapons, and he challenged the United States and its European allies to show evidence.

Because of security concerns Tuesday, United Nations investigators postponed their visit to another Damascus suburb where chemical weapons apparently were used. Snipers fired at a U.N. car during a stop in Moadamiyeh Monday. No one was hurt and the Syrian government and rebels blamed each other for the gunfire.

The United States says there is no doubt Bashar al-Assad's military dropped chemical weapons on four Damascus suburbs last week, killing hundreds including entire families in their homes. U.S. officials say President Barack Obama's decision on a response could come within days.

But it is not just the West condemning Syria. The Arab League meeting in Cairo is blaming the Assad government for the attack and is demanding that those responsible be put on trial.

British Prime Minister David Cameron instructed parliament to return from its summer recess on Thursday. He said any action would be a response to the use of chemical weapons, and not intended to draw Western powers further into the Syrian conflict.

French President Francois Hollande says his country is ready to punish those who made the "vile" decision to gas innocent people. He also promised France will increase its military support to the main Syrian opposition group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a "forceful" response if Syria makes any attempt to attack Israel.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denounced the Syrian government's alleged chemical weapon attacks near Damascus as a "crime against humanity" and said it must "not go unanswered."

But China's state news agency Xinhua cautioned against a rush to military action. In a Tuesday commentary, it said the world should remember that the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq followed U.S. allegations that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were never found.

Russia, a key Syrian ally, also is warning against Western intervention in Syria. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin Tuesday accused Western powers of behaving in the Islamic world "like a monkey with a grenade."

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