Assad calls on Geneva mediators to ban arming Syria rebels
“We hope that the Geneva conference will push forward the dialogue process in Syria,” Mr. Assad was quoted as saying. “If the Geneva conference is successful – as is our hope, in preventing the smuggling of weapons and terrorists - there are over 29 different nationalities documented to be in Syria, then this would be a catalyst for resolving the Syrian crisis,” he explained.
The Syrian leader underscored some governments were backing Syrian militants and didn’t want a breakthrough. He warned that “failing to solve the Syrian crisis will make it spread to other countries and things will only get worse.”
The Syria peace initiative comes from Russia and the US who are set to repeat the Geneva conference of June 30, 2012.
Earlier this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry met in Moscow where they drafted a plan to bring all regional powers that have influence on the warring parties to the negotiating table.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Monday that European powers would "pay the price" if they sent weapons to rebel forces seeking to topple him. "If the Europeans deliver weapons, then Europe's backyard will become terrorist, and Europe will pay the price for it," he was quoted as saying by German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Sending weapons to rebels would lead to terrorism in Europe, he said according to an interview to appear in Tuesday's edition of the newspaper.
"Terrorists will return, battle-hardened and with an extremist ideology," he was quoted as saying.
Assad pointed to one rebel faction, the Nusra Front, and said: "It represents the same ideology" as al-Qaeda and "aims to establish an Islamic state".
Assad also denied US, British and French claims that his forces had used chemical weapons against his people during the escalating conflict in Syria.
"If Paris, London and Washington had any evidence for their claims, they would have submitted it to the global public," said Assad, whose comments were published in German.
"Everything that is being said about the use of chemical weapons is a continuation of the lies about Syria," he added. "It is the attempt to justify more military interference."
Assad added that the charges that his forces had used chemical weapons made no sense if the alleged death toll from their use was 150 people.
"Weapons of mass destruction are capable of killing hundreds or thousands at once. That's why they are used," Assad said.
"It is therefore illogical to use chemical weapons to kill numbers of people that could be achieved with the use of conventional weapons."
The conflict in Syria was set to dominate a G8 summit starting in Northern Ireland on Monday, with the Assad regime's ally Moscow expected to come under pressure from Western powers.
Washington said last week it would provide Syria's rebels with military support after it determined that the regime had used chemical weapons.
Voice of Russia, RIA, AFP