Assad says WMD claims pretext for war

2013-05-18 22:33
(Vahid Salemi, AP/File)

(Vahid Salemi, AP/File)

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Cairo - Western claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people are a pretext for waging a war against Syria, President Bashar Assad said in remarks published on Saturday

"Accusations that Syria used chemical weapons and talk about my resignation change every day," he said in an interview with the Argentinian news agency Telam.

"This is probably being used as a prelude to a war against our country. I don't rule out a Western war against Syria."

The United States, Britain and Israel have said there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

"The West lies and forges evidence to unleash wars. This is their tradition," Assad said.

He vowed never to resign and said he was willing to negotiate an end to the conflict now in its third year but not with "terrorists" - a term used by Damascus to describe the rebels.

On the ground, rebel fighters claimed to have seized several villages loyal to Assad in Hama in central Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the villages seized by the rebels were mainly inhabited by Alawites, a Shi'ite Muslim sect to which Assad belongs.

The mostly Sunni rebels' advance forced an exodus from the villages located on the outskirts of Hama, added the organisation.

Government forces and rebels have been fighting in the area for weeks.

Both sides have claimed major gains in recent months.

Read more on:    bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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