DAMASCUS/BEIRUT: Syrian state television Wednesday broadcast a speech by opposition chief Ahmad Jarba at peace talks in Switzerland alongside footage of “terrorist crimes” in Syria.
The state broadcaster also failed to identify Jarba as he began his speech at the conference in the Swiss town of Montreux.
In a split screen, it showed Jarba on the right, under the heading “Montreux, Switzerland,” and on the left footage of death and destruction under the heading “Terrorist Crimes in Syria.”
It left up quotes from Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, who spoke before Jarba, in a breaking news alert on the bottom of the screen as Jarba spoke.
State television used the same format when Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministers, Ahmet Davutoglu and Saud al-Faisal, spoke.
Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are key backers of the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.
While the two chief diplomats were shown on the right of the screen, the images on the left were of summary executions, bombings, pools of blood, destroyed buildings and dead bodies, including the body of a child.
The two sides in Syria’s nearly 3-year-old conflict are meeting in Switzerland for the so-called Geneva II talks, a U.S.-Russian initiative to try to end the violence.
The Assad regime has long referred to all those seeking his ouster as “terrorists.”
Separately, several groups of protesters gathered in the Swiss city to stage sit-ins or other forms of peaceful actions to draw world attention to the need to halt the fighting.
And at least two altercations – one verbal, one physical – were reported and caught on film, involving pro-opposition stations and regime supporters.
Orient TV said its reporter, Haifa Bouzo, was confronted by “thugs” affiliated with the regime’s media delegation, as a crowd of reporters and cameramen looked on.
Both screamed questions and accusations at each other, until the unidentified man questioned whether the reporter was Syrian, and shouting the challenge:
“If you are Syrian, you should fight for Syria.”
In addition, a camera crew from Al-Aan television filmed a confrontation in the streets of Montreux, where it said that at least two stick-wielding supporters of the regime assaulted a number of female opposition supporters.
A few individuals finally managed to separate the two sides, as the pro-regime supporters moved off, shouting “traitors!” at their rivals.