Syria Says EU Sanctions Amount to War
6/22/11voa
AP: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (file photo)-

Syria says European Union sanctions against it amount to war and is warning that it will not tolerate any foreign interference in its internal affairs.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim said in a speech in Damascus Wednesday that EU sanctions against military-linked companies in Syria and individuals show that the bloc wants to "plant strife and chaos" in the Arab nation.

He dismissed the EU sanctions, saying that Syria "will forget Europe is on the map."  He also denied that Iran and Hezbollah are helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad put down the unrest.  He suggested that because of the killing of some Syrian security personnel, al-Qaida might be behind some of the violence.

National dialogue

Earlier this week, Assad offered a national dialogue to consider political reforms in his restive country, where a three month crackdown on anti-government protesters has left 1,400 people dead.

Turkey, which has set up tent camps to house 10,000 Syrians who have fled to escape the violence, said. Assad's proposals were "not enough." Muallim asked Turkey to reconsider its assessment, saying that Syria wants "best relations" with its neighbor to the north.

Muallim's wide-ranging assessment came a day after activists said supporters and opponents of the Syrian government clashed in several cities, leaving at least seven people dead.

Crackdown

Witnesses and human rights activists say Syrian security forces fired on anti-government crowds Tuesday, causing casualties in the central cities of Homs and Hama and the Mayadin district of Deir al-Zour.  Demonstrations also erupted in the capital, Damascus.

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 June 22, 2011

Syria Says EU Sanctions Amount to War

Photo: AP
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (file photo)

Syria says European Union sanctions against it amount to war and is warning that it will not tolerate any foreign interference in its internal affairs.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim said in a speech in Damascus Wednesday that EU sanctions against military-linked companies in Syria and individuals show that the bloc wants to "plant strife and chaos" in the Arab nation.

He dismissed the EU sanctions, saying that Syria "will forget Europe is on the map."  He also denied that Iran and Hezbollah are helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad put down the unrest.  He suggested that because of the killing of some Syrian security personnel, al-Qaida might be behind some of the violence.

National dialogue

Earlier this week, Assad offered a national dialogue to consider political reforms in his restive country, where a three month crackdown on anti-government protesters has left 1,400 people dead.

Turkey, which has set up tent camps to house 10,000 Syrians who have fled to escape the violence, said. Assad's proposals were "not enough." Muallim asked Turkey to reconsider its assessment, saying that Syria wants "best relations" with its neighbor to the north.

Muallim's wide-ranging assessment came a day after activists said supporters and opponents of the Syrian government clashed in several cities, leaving at least seven people dead.

Crackdown

Witnesses and human rights activists say Syrian security forces fired on anti-government crowds Tuesday, causing casualties in the central cities of Homs and Hama and the Mayadin district of Deir al-Zour.  Demonstrations also erupted in the capital, Damascus.

 

Anti-government protesters went into the streets after pro-government rallies in which thousands gathered to show support for Assad.  

State television showed tens of thousands of pro-Assad demonstrators in Damascus and other cities, holding flags and pictures of the president. Earlier in the week, he blamed the recent unrest on "saboteurs" and laid out his plans for political reforms.

Amnesty

Also Tuesday, the state news service said Assad has granted a general amnesty for crimes committed before June 20, but did not provide further details.

In the president's 70-minute speech Monday, he offered a national dialogue that would begin to review new laws on parliamentary elections, the media and possible reforms to Syria's constitution.

Activists immediately dismissed his promises, saying they failed to meet the demands of protesters who for three months have rallied for democratic changes and defied a fierce military crackdown.

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