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US 'encouraging' Syria armed groups, minister says

11 november 2011, 11:43
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. ©Reuters
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. ©Reuters
Syria on Wednesday accused the United States of direct involvement in protests against President Bashar al-Assad by calling on opponents not to surrender, AFP reports.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem called on the UN Security Council to "condemn" US action, according to a letter he sent to the council.

Last Friday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland advised Syrians against surrendering in response to the Damascus government's offer of an amnesty for those who give up their weapons.

Syria "considers that through the State Department’s statement, the United States of America has directly involved itself in the violent unrest in Syria," said Muallem.

"The statement encourages armed groups to continue their criminal activities against the people and State."

The State Department's action "reflects an intention, indeed an active attempt, to thwart the League of Arab States in its endeavor to bring an end to the crisis in Syria and restore peace and stability to the population."

The Arab League has proposed a peace plan calling for an end to violence, the release of detainees and the withdrawal of Assad's forces from cities. Killings have continued in recent days however.

The UN says there have been at least 3,500 deaths in Syria and UN leader Ban Ki-moon has accused Assad of failing to keep promises to enact reforms.

Nuland said the amnesty was the fourth since she had become spokeswoman five months ago. Each time the crackdown on protests has been pursued.

The Syrian letter was released by the UN hours after US ambassador Susan Rice called the Syrian crisis the most important civilian defense challenge facing the Security Council.

Russia and China vetoed a resolution, proposed by European nations last month, condemning the Syrian government violence.

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