Syria says UN aid resolution must respect 'sovereignty'

AFP , Sunday 23 Feb 2014

UN Security Council
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, center, listens as Jordan's Ambassador to the United Nations Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, left, speaks after a U.N. Security Council vote on the Syria humanitarian crisis at the UN headquarters on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Syria said Sunday it is ready to cooperate with a rare UN Security Council resolution to allow humanitarian access, so long as it respects "state sovereignty."

The foreign ministry also said in its statement that the "root causes" of the humanitarian crisis must be treated, singling out "foreign-backed terrorism" and sanctions placed on President Bashar al-Assad's regime by Western and Arab countries.

The UN Security Council, which has been sharply divided over the nearly three-year Syrian conflict, unanimously adopted resolution 2139 on Saturday, calling for humanitarian aid convoys to be allowed access across the war-torn country.

According to the ministry statement, which was published by state news agency SANA, Damascus is "ready too cooperate with the UN Resident Coordinator and with international humanitarian organisations working in Syria, to agree on the implementation of resolution 2139."

It said the resolution must be implemented "with respect for the principles laid out in the UN Charter, international law and the basic foundations of humanitarian work, especially state sovereignty and the role of the state, and principles of neutrality, transparency and non-politicised assistance."

Damascus said the resolution, which condemns terror attacks by Al-Qaeda-linked organisations, was an "admission" by the Security Council of the presence of "extremist Al-Qaeda-linked terrorism" in Syria.

It described the UN condemnation as "a step in the right direction."

Since the March 2011 start of Syria's uprising -- which began as peaceful protests but escalated into a civil war after security forces repeatedly attacked demonstrators -- Assad's regime has blamed foreign-backed "terrorism" for violence in the country.

The ministry said the latest resolution "must be followed by steps to force states involved in providing financial and military support, training, refuge and arms to terrorist groups in Syria to stop supporting terrorism."

The statement appeared aimed at Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, which have supported the rebels battling Assad's forces. The regime has received support from Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The statement also lashed out against sanctions imposed on Syria's regime as "harming the living conditions of Syrian citizens."

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