Thursday, February 16, 2012

Assad still has strong support, says envoy to Canada

As the UN secretary general accused the Syrian regime of potential crimes against humanity on Thursday, the top Syrian envoy to Canada blamed terrorists for civilian deaths and said President Bashar Assad still has strong support.

Fighting between government troops and Assad's opponents has been ongoing since last March, when an Arab Spring-inspired uprising first erupted in Syria.

The Syrian military has been accused of firing on civilian demonstrators, causing more than 5,000 deaths, according to some reports.

Bashar Akbik, Syrian charge d'affaires to Canada, said those numbers have not been corroborated and added that the military is battling Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists who are hiding behind civilians. He said it's the rebels themselves who are firing upon civilians, then blaming the army for the deaths.

"Those (civilians) who are falling are unfortunately falling under the fire of extremists who are intending to shoot at them and sway the world and the public's opinion that the Syrian army is the party that is shooting at civilians. We have a very complicated situation that is happening in these towns," Akbik told CTV News Channel.

He said the rebel forces are a composite of army deserters, terrorists from al Qaeda and the Taliban, and "infiltrators" from Libya, Saudi Arabia and other countries. Read More