Feltman Hopes Lebanese Will 'Reject Apologists of Assad's Butchery' in 2013 Vote

Lebanon has a moral obligation to support the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and should use upcoming elections to "reject the apologists of Assad's butchery," Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman has said.

In strongly worded remarks, Feltman paid tribute to the Lebanese who took to the streets after ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri's assassination in 2005.

Feltman, who was U.S. ambassador in Beirut during the so-called Cedar Revolution, said that supporters of Lebanon had a "moral as well as political obligation" to support Syrians fighting to topple Assad.

"No one outside of Syria understands the brutality of Bashar al-Assad better than the Lebanese. No one outside of Syria has more of a stake in the outcome than the Lebanese," Feltman told a Lebanese American reception late Monday.

Feltman said that the Cedar Revolution had not yet achieved a Lebanon "free of Assad's manipulation" and of Iranian influence and urged Lebanese to look ahead to parliamentary elections due next year.

"I hope those Lebanese who are here with us today, along with millions of others back home in Lebanon, will again show the world how they can transcend fear -- in order to use those 2013 legislative elections to defeat the remnants of the Syrian occupation and reject the apologists of Assad's butchery," he said.

Assad is facing a revolt that poses the biggest threat to his family's four-decade rule over Syria. Rights activists say more than 9,100 people have died in a year-long crackdown to crush the uprising.

Source: Agence France Presse

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