Syria Blames Armed Groups for Unrest

Posted September 27th, 2011 at 1:54 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem has blamed armed groups for the situation in Syria, and lashed out at the United States and European Union for imposing sanctions.

In a speech Monday to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Mouallem accused the U.S. and EU of jeopardizing the interests and basic needs of Syrians while pronouncing concerns for their security and rights. He also assured that the Syrian government has guaranteed democratic reforms.

Human Rights Watch rejected Syria's explanation of the violence. The group's U.N. director said in statement that facts documented by the U.N. and Human Rights Watch show the Syrian government has carried out a “merciless campaign” of killings, torture and arbitrary detentions of its people. He urged the U.N. Security Council to take action.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also called for the Security Council to act, while China expressed its concern about the situation in Syria. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi urged all sides in Syria to show restraint and avoid more bloodshed.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, again called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down so that a democratic transition can take place. He said Mr. Assad is no longer the legitimate leader of that country because of his government's violent attacks on its own citizens.

President Assad has sent troops across the country to quell an uprising by protesters.

Meanwhile, Syrian activists said Monday security forces shot dead four soldiers who tried to desert a military camp in the country's north.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the soldiers were killed in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

The U.N. says the government crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March.