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Syrian official says West meddling
DAMASCUS, Syria — A Syrian official on Monday accused the West of taking advantage of the Middle Eastern country’s unrest to try to destabilize it and warned the opposition that militarizing is a big mistake that will backfire.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the only way out of the current crisis that has killed thousands of people is for all parties to sit around the negotiating table and engage in dialogue.
He spoke Monday in a rare interview in Damascus with the Associated Press.
The government of President Bashar Assad has for months been battling an uprising of Syrians calling for his ouster. Western countries, including the U.S., have condemned the increasingly bloody methods Assad's government has used to put down the revolt.
Activist groups on Monday said the death toll from nearly a year of unrest has surpassed 8,000 people, mostly civilians.
The Syrian government says it is fighting against armed groups pushing a foreign agenda.
“The West took advantage of the awakening of the Syrian street. Instead of helping Syria to overcome this painful crisis, they are using this to hit the stability of Syria for other geopolitical reasons,” Makdissi said.
While U.S. officials have warned against taking actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria, many in the opposition now say openly that they are getting arms through smuggling routes.
But Makdissi rejected the notion that the opposition is simply defending itself. He called the move to arm itself was “…one of the biggest mistakes of the opposition.”
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