France funding terrorism - Syria

Syria has accused US, France and others of funding "terrorism" at the UN annual meeting.

Syrian flag. Picture: AFP

UNITED NATIONS - Syria's foreign minister on Monday accused the United States, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey of supporting "terrorism" by funnelling arms, money and foreign fighters to rebels seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad while the UN chief decried killings and rights abuses by Assad's government.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, speaking on the last day of the annual 193-nation UN General Assembly, also accused Libya of backing the rebels and said an arm of the al Qaeda network had taken responsibility for some bomb attacks in Syria.

Moualem said outside calls for Assad to step down amid the 18-month-old conflict were a "blatant interference in the domestic affairs of Syria, and the unity of its people and its sovereignty."

His speech came three days after countries calling for Assad's oust met on the sidelines of the General Assembly but announced steps far short of what the rebels wanted as they press ahead in the civil war.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Moualem earlier on Monday and "raised in the strongest terms the continued killings, massive destruction, human rights abuses and aerial and artillery attacks committed by the government," Ban's spokesman said in a statement.

"He stressed that it was the Syrian people who were being killed every day and appealed to the government of Syria to show compassion to its own people," the spokesman said.

At a high-level meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Monday, Ban singled out Syria for being one of eight states that had not signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

"I have expressed grave concerns with statements made by representatives of the Syrian government regarding the existence of chemical weapons and their possible use," Ban said. "I have also personally conveyed these concerns directly to President Assad in writing.

"The use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences," he said.