(NEW YORK) — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told the United Nations General Assembly on Monday that the world should support his government’s fight against opposition forces just as it came together for the U.S. following the Sept. 11 attacks.
According to Moallem, New Yorkers suffered “the devastations of terrorism, and were burned with the fire of extremism and bloodshed, the same way we are suffering now in Syria.”
He then asked why the U.S. and it allies back rebels that Damascus has labeled “terrorists” who seek the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The conflict is now in its 31st month with well over 100,000 fatalities and no signs of a peaceful resolution.
Reaction to Moallem’s 9/11 comparisons was swift. Erin Pelton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission at the U.N., said his remarks were “offensive” and “the fact that the Syrian regime has shelled schools and hospitals and used chemical weapons on its own people demonstrates that it has adopted the very terrorist tactics that it today decried.”
The Syrian foreign minister’s comments came just days after the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that would force Assad’s government to surrender its vast chemical weapons supply to international control for destruction by mid-2014.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN