Middle East

'War of extermination' in Syria: Qatar PM

Qatari Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani speaks at the first "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunis on February 24, 2012. (AFP/FETHI BELAID)

DOHA: Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani has accused the Syrian regime, with the complicity of the international community, of waging a "war of extermination" against its people.

Sheikh Hamad in an interview with Al-Jazeera satellite channel late on Monday took issue with UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who earlier in the day had characterised the deadly conflict ravaging Syria as a "civil war."

"What is happening in Syria is not a civil war but a war of extermination against the Syrian people," Sheikh Hamad said.

This war, he charged, was being waged "with a licence to kill, endorsed firstly by the Syrian government and secondly by the international community."

He was apparently referring to Russia and China, which have repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council resolutions threatening action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"We have confidence in Mr Brahimi... but we need him to develop a clear proposal for a solution that can be put before the Security Council paving the way for a transition period and a transfer of power," said Sheikh Hamad.

Brahimi, who saw the truce he had brokered for the four-day Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday shattered in an explosion of violence soon after it took effect on Friday, said in Moscow the situation in Syria was "bad and getting worse."

"If it's not a civil war, I don't know what it is," he said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Brahimi, who is also due to visit China, is to go to the UN Security Council in November with new proposals to push for talks between Assad and the opposition.

Qatar is widely accused of arming rebels fighting Assad's forces.

It called, without success, in the UN General Assembly last month for an Arab intervention force in Syria and a no-fly zone to protect refugees.





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