Syrian government denounces UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon as ´biased´ (TELEGRAPH UK) By Richard Spencer, Damascus and Ruth Sherlock in Beirut 05/01/12)
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The Syrian government yesterday denounced the United Nations
secretary general Ban Ki-moon as "biased" and accused the West of
conspiring to install Islamist and Al-Qaeda regimes across the Middle
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph in Damascus, Faisal Mukdad,
the deputy foreign minister and senior government spokesman, claimed
most of those rebelling against Bashar al-Assad´s rule
were "criminals and drug-dealers".
Rejecting any blame for the apparent collapse of the ceasefire deal,
he insisted it was the rebels who were "escalating their attacks" and
that the Syrian regime had the right to defend itself.
He also claimed the United States and France were openly trying to
ensure the peace plan´s failure, with the French foreign minister
Alain Juppe, in particular, "calling for war".
"This is what the West wants - extremist and al-Qaeda forces
controlling the whole region," he said.
Mr Mukdad´s message of defiance came shortly after two huge bomb
blasts hit the restive town of Idlib, killing as many as 20 people
and shattering the relative calm that had pervaded the city since the
recent arrival of two UN peace monitors.
The regime blamed "terrorists" for the explosions, which targeted the
Air Force Intelligence headquarters and the Military Intelligence
building and killed several security personnel.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Mukdad said there were now both
al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood elements to the Syrian opposition, as
well as a high criminal element, and claimed they had breached the
ceasefire 1,600 times.
"Criminals are a big force - something like 59,000 who were drug
smugglers, drug dealers, arms smugglers, ordinary criminals who were
inside and outside Syria when these developments started," he
said. "How can we control them?"
He also attacked the the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who last
week said that the Assad regime was in contravention of the ceasefire
by not withdrawing heavy weaponry and suggested it was continuing to
shell civilian areas.
"He is biased - very biased," Mr Mukdad said. "We may forgive him for
some of his statements but now the UN monitors are in Syria he should
base his statements on what they are saying."
Mr Mukdad also gave the highest government estimate yet of its
casualties in the uprising, saying that more than 6,000 soldiers,
police, other security forces and "pro-regime civilians" had been
killed. He refused to be drawn on the overall casualty list -
activists claim that more than 9,000 civilians and rebels have been
killed by the regime.
The Syrian government is confident it has managed to reassert control
over the country since protests against the rule of President Bashar
al-Assad reached a peak. Either because of its prior use of military
force to quell rebellious cities or because of the arrival of a
handful of UN monitors to oversee the Kofi Annan peace plan, the
level of violence has dropped.
But there are regular bombings and rocket attacks in different parts
of the country, highlighted by yesterday´s attacks in the city of
Idlib, where at least nine people and as many as 20 were killed.
There was also a rocket attack on the Central Bank in Damascus.
The Syrian pro-government al-Ekhbariya TV aired footage of the
aftermath of the Idlib bombs, showing cars reduced to grey twisted
cinders, blood stains on the pavement and concrete debris.
Residents living nearby cried in panic into the camera and spoke out
angrily against the Syrian opposition. "Is this the freedom they
want?" asked one man standing among the rubble.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, with
the government and the rebels blaming each other.
Colonel Khaled Hamod, a Free Syrian Army commander from Idlib told
The Daily Telegraph that the explosion at the Air Force Intelligence
headquarters was the result of an internal feud.
"There has been a major split in the ranks of the security building,"
he said. "Some of the officers wanted to defect. Men from inside
fabricated this explosion to gloss over the rift, and kill those that
were in support of us. The Free Syrian Army did not do this."
Activists said that the head of the Air Force Intelligence
headquarters, Ali Ibrahim al-Yousef, died in the attack along with at
least three other personnel who they said had not yet defected but
were sympathetic to the opposition. (© Copyright of Telegraph Media
Group Limited 2012. 05/01/12)
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