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Tuesday, July 22, 2014         

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Syria says it will defend itself against attack

By ALBERT AJI

Associated Press

POSTED:



DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria's foreign minister said Tuesday his country would defend itself using "all means available" in case of a U.S. strike, denying his government was behind an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus and challenging Washington to present proof backing up its accusations.

The United Nations said that its team of chemical weapons experts in Syria delayed a second trip to investigate an alleged poison gas attack near Damascus by one day for security reasons.

Walid al-Moallem, speaking at a press conference in Damascus, likened U.S. allegations that President Bashar Assad's regime was behind a purported poison gas attack to false American charges that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of that country.

"They have a history of lies — Iraq," he said. Al-Moallem spoke a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Assad's regime.

Kerry's comments and tough language Monday laid out the clearest argument yet for U.S. military action in Syria, which, if President Barack Obama decides to order it, would most likely involve sea-launched cruise missile attacks on Syrian military targets.

Support for some sort of international military response was likely to grow if it is confirmed that Assad's regime was responsible for the Aug. 21 attack that activists say killed hundreds of people. The group Doctors Without Borders put the death toll at 355.

Obama has yet to say how he will respond, but appeared to be moving ahead even as the U.N. team on the ground in Syria collected evidence from the attack.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament on Tuesday for an urgent discussion on a possible military response.

At the Syrian news conference, Al-Moallem called the U.S. accusations "categorically false."

"I challenge those who accuse our forces of using these weapons to come forward with the evidence," he said. Syria would fight back in case a U.S. strike, he added.

"We have the means to defend ourselves and we will surprise everyone," he told reporters the Damascus news conference. "We will defend ourselves using all means available. I don't want to say more than that," he added.

He also blamed the postponement of the U.N. team's planned visit to the eastern Ghouta suburb on disputes between rebel gunmen who could not agree on safety guarantees for the investigators.

The U.N confirmed the one-day delay, saying only it was for security reasons. A statement said the decision was made Tuesday in order to improve preparedness and safety, after unidentified snipers opened fire on the team's convoy on Monday on a similar trip to the region.

"The Secretary-General again urges all sides in the conflict to give safe passage and access to the team," the statement said.

The U.N. team traveled Monday to the western Damascus suburb Moadamiyeh, one of the areas affected by purported chemical attack, where they collected samples and testimony after a treacherous journey through government and rebel-held territory. Their convoy was hit by snipers but members of the team were unharmed.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had instructed U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane in Damascus "to register a strong complaint" with both the Syrian government and opposition representatives for the convoy attack.

In Geneva, U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told reporters that the inspection team might need longer than the planned 14 days to complete its work and its priority now is to determine what chemical weapons might have been used in the Aug. 21 attack. "This is the first priority," she said.

An Associated Press photographer outside the team's hotel in Damascus said earlier that he saw Kane and Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom leave the hotel while other inspectors stayed behind.

———

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam and Bassem Mroue contributed from Beirut, John Heilprin from Geneva







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Grimbold wrote:
Obama is even dumber than Bush to believe the Israel undermined advisers and secret service. Why would Assad use chemical weapons, when he knows the US would support the rebels if he did? But the rebels or Israel (who wants to disturb the axis Iran-Syria-Hisbollah) would profit if they use poison gas and blame Assad. Without it they are loosing the civil war against Assad. Common sense tells us this is the same fraud as Iraq's "weapons of mass destructions" to pull us into a war.
on August 27,2013 | 03:33AM
localguy wrote:
I think you missed the main point. Assad is no different then Kim Jong-un or Saddam Hussein, all ruthless dictators who see themselves as Gods. They can do no wrong, are above the law. Or so they think. Both would do well to remember what happened to Romainia's dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu who was finally overthrown. After a quick court trial where he was found guilt of crimes against the people, he and his wife were taken out of the courtroom and before the news cameras could get ready, were shot to death by the people. Same for Saddam, hung to death. No chance of appeal, the people had spoken. Assad will soon either be dead or in exile. My money is on dead. Good riddance.
on August 27,2013 | 07:04AM
Grimbold wrote:
Yep lets arm the Jihadists and waste Billions and the lives of our soldiers and then the result: Look at Iraq. It is worse than before.
on August 27,2013 | 07:53AM
HD36 wrote:
I see this as a smoke screen for what is about to happen. In September the Fed will announce tapering. As we saw in their live stress test in late June, everything will go down. In order to disguise the blame of an economic collapse, they wil blame it on the war. Also, it would serve another purpose. Disrupting the upcoming G20 meeting in Russia where an alternative dollar trading platform will be implemented using a BRICS central bank and a gold backed trading note. If that were to happen, a flood of dollars would come back to our shores and create massive inflation. So by attacking Syria, we can draw in Iran, whom we've wanted to attack since 2004 and Russia, who is pushing along with China for a dollar trading alternative.
on August 27,2013 | 11:00AM
eoe wrote:
Did you forget to take your abilify this morning?
on August 27,2013 | 11:58AM
HD36 wrote:
What I forgot was a massive dose of mass media war mongering propoganda made specifically for the sheeple of society.
on August 27,2013 | 02:48PM
TLehel wrote:
Our country doesn't act "morally", so I believe it to be completely true that this is false flag. Honestly, the US doesn't give a rats about the rebels and Syria. This is a ploy for something bigger happening within our own country. War feeds the machine. Without war what are we? A nation with a dwindling economy, unpleasent residents who have been conditioned into complacency and obesity, and a "democracy" that is based on two main parties who basically only tolerate eachother at best. Republicans and Democrats scrap eachother for their positions and so we always have the political aftermath of negitivity. There's no unity in politics. When you have a nation with no inter-dependence in itself, you've got a nation looking for trouble.
on August 27,2013 | 01:33PM
ippikiokami wrote:
HD36 is correct. This is a false flag. War will disguise the imminent economic collapse. Sadly, we may be witnessing the beginning of WWIII.
on August 27,2013 | 04:59PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Per localguy: "Same for Saddam, hung to death. No chance of appeal, the people had spoken" ............The "people" who hanged Saddam, was the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric who was an enemy of the U.S. And that militia of his killed hundreds of U.S. troops.
on August 27,2013 | 02:49PM
Usagi336 wrote:
We really need to see solid proof that Assad poisoned the people before committing our Forces to fight. Tired of hearing "we have evidence" and then show us nothing. I also believe that factions of the Rebel forces have much more to gain by poisoning Syrians then the government does. Hopefully this will lead to all Syrians banding together and driving the foreign fighters out of their country. This conflict is getting very scary.
on August 27,2013 | 08:27AM
sailfish1 wrote:
I agree - It's hard to believe that Assad would use chemical weapons when the UN inspectors are there to investigate past allegations. Only the rebels would gain from it and with Al Qaeda among them why should we trust the rebels? Another thing, why does the U.S. have to get involved? The English, French, Israel, and Turkey wants military action - well, they are closer to Syria and they have a military - let them do it.
on August 27,2013 | 10:07AM
gtracer66 wrote:
I agree, it's about time other countries step up and police their own back yards. We've got our own firefights going on in places like parts of Chicago and DC. These cities are virtual "war zones". We don't need another.
on August 27,2013 | 12:25PM
juscasting wrote:
We can't even pay our own bills and we are worrying about someone elses gas problem, sequestration, castration, where is our leaders taking us? To the looney farm.......
on August 27,2013 | 02:06PM
paradiddle wrote:
We (The USA) have more Problems (with a capital "P") than we can handle at home. We are such a dysfunctional country and it is getting worse by the day. To drag ourselves into yet another conflict is pure insanity. Therefore, I predict the USA will become an unwelcomed but active participant within 7 days.
on August 27,2013 | 04:47PM
SteveToo wrote:
I'm w/Assad on this. If we attack him watch out America you asked for it. Obama=sama, you have no constitutional right to attack ANY country w/out consent of Congress. Haven't you read the constitution you swear to defend????
on August 27,2013 | 06:12PM
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