Syria warns against recognizing opposition council

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 09, 2011 6:43 AM
Syria warns against recognizing opposition council

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria warned on Sunday it would retaliate against any country that formally recognizes the National Council set up by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

"We will take tough measures against any state which recognizes this illegitimate council," Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told a news conference broadcast by Syrian television.

The formation of the council has been welcomed by Western countries including the United States and France. However, unlike the transitional council set up by Libyan rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, they have not offered it any formal recognition.

The United Nations says 2,900 people have been killed in Assad's crackdown on six months of mainly peaceful protests. On Saturday, activists said security forces killed at least two people when they opened fire on tens of thousands of mourners at the funeral of a Kurdish opposition figure.

Moualem described Mishaal al-Tammo as a martyr killed by terrorists, suggesting he was targeted because he opposed foreign intervention in Syria. Tammo's family have blamed Syrian authorities for his death.

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Moualem also criticized European countries where he said Syrian embassies had been attacked by protesters, saying that if they did not meet their obligations to protect foreign missions Syria would respond in similar fashion.

He was speaking at a joint news conference with ministers from five Latin American countries, who were visiting Syria to show support for Assad's government.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans)