BEIRUT: Syria said Tuesday that it was prepared to "confront the whole world" in the face of threats of western military action following an alleged chemical weapons attack last week, which rebels say killed hundreds.
Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said that the chemical weapons argument was a "pretext" under which to start a military campaign against Syria, which was ultimately designed to serve the interests of both Israel and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, a rebel faction.
"If this military campaign is meant to morally undermine our people, I believe they are mistaken," Moallem said. "The people of Syria are united together with their armed forces and leadership. This has allowed us to endure. We are prepared to confront the whole world."
In regards to the UN chemical weapons inspectors currently in Damascus, Moallem said the government was dealing with them with transparency and openness and that the team would resurrect its work - which was interrupted by sniper fire on Monday - on Wednesday. He blamed rebels for the delay.
"If they falsely believe that the military strike being planned will undermine our military capabilities currently in eastern Ghouta, I confirm that it will not at all," he said.
The Syrian opposition say a poison gas attack in eastern Ghouta last week killed hundreds of people. A UN chemical weapons inspection team, which was already in the country, was Sunday granted access by the Syrian government to visit the sites allegedly affected.
The U.S. and the UK have upped rhetoric of a possible military strike on Syria in recent days, with British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesperson saying Tuesday that contingency plans were being put in place.