Syria making 'great strides' in war – FM tells UN
UNITED NATIONS – Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the United Nations on Saturday, September 24, that the Syrian army was making "great strides" in the five-year war, with help from "true friends" Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Muallem also used his address at the General Assembly to reject US claims that a coalition strike on Syrian soldiers a week ago was unintentional, saying it was "not an error."
"Our belief in victory is even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army is making great strides in its war against terrorism, with the support of the true friends of the Syrian people, notably the Russian federation, Iran and the Lebanese national resistance," Muallem said.
The Syrian foreign minister, who is also deputy prime minister, took the podium at the United Nations after a week of intense diplomacy failed to revive a ceasefire deal negotiated between the United States and Russia.
Air strikes pounded the battleground city of Aleppo on Saturday, killing at least 32 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which expected the death toll to rise as rescuers recovered bodies trapped under rubble.
Muallem hit said his government "holds the United States fully responsible" for the September 17 coalition strike on a Syrian army base "because facts show that it was an intentional attack, and not an error, even if the United States claims otherwise."
Dozens of Syrian soldiers were killed in the bombing of the Syrian air base near the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, which is controlled by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists.
The United States has expressed regret for the loss of lives, saying the coalition believed it was hitting an ISIS target and has promised to investigate the incident.
Muallem said his government was committed to the UN-led peace process, but slammed Western-backed opposition fighters for crimes that "are no less barbaric" than those carried out by IISS and Al-Qaeda jihadists.
More than 300,000 people have died in the conflict in Syria and millions have been driven from their homes.
The minister hit out at Qatar and Saudi Arabia, accusing them of "sending into Syria thousands of mercenaries, equipped with the most sophisticated weapons" to fight President Bashar al-Assad's government.
He said Turkey was allowing "tens of thousands of terrorists from all around the world" to cross its border into Syria, providing them with logistical support and training camps "under the supervision of Turkish and western intelligence."
"We, in Syria, are combating terrorism on behalf of the whole world," he said. – Rappler.com