DAMASCUS: Syria vowed yesterday to defend itself as the US defence chief said his country’s forces are “ready” to launch attacks against the Syrian regime, accused of deadly chemical weapons attacks.
During a defiant news conference, Syria Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Damascus would defend itself against any strikes. “We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal,” he said. “The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves.” Muallem said Syria had capabilities that would “surprise” the world, and warned that any military action against it would serve the interests of Israel and Al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, UN chemical weapons experts postponed efforts to collect more evidence from the site of alleged attacks on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21 in which more than 300 people were reportedly killed. They had been due to visit the sites again yesterday, but Muallem said their trip had been put off because rebels failed to guarantee their security. The UN convoy had come under sniper fire on Monday as it tried to approach the suburb where the attack apparently took place, but managed to visit victims receiving treatment in two nearby hospitals.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region has no plans to send troops into Syria to defend fellow Kurds, a senior Iraqi Kurdish official said, despite safety concerns which have driven thousands to cross the border.