Syria Says Brahimi 'Civil War' Comments Contradict Realityإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Syria lashed out on Monday at comments by new international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi describing the increasingly brutal 17-month conflict as a civil war.
"To speak of civil war in Syria contradicts reality and is found only in the head of conspirators," the foreign ministry said in a statement published by the official SANA news agency.
Brahimi said on Sunday that it is no longer a question of "preventing civil war" in Syria but rather stopping it as the country is already in the throes of the "cruelest" conflict.
"A civil war, it is the cruelest kind of conflict, when a neighbor kills his neighbor and sometimes his brother, it is the worst of conflicts," Brahimi said in an interview with France 24 television.
"There are a lot of people who say that we must avoid civil war in Syria, me I believe that we are already there for some time now. What's necessary is to stop the civil war and that is not going to be easy," said the Algerian diplomat.
Syria's popular uprising, which began in March 2011, has spiraled into an armed conflict with more than 23,000 deaths, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The United Nations puts the death toll at 17,000.
Brahimi said that "change is inevitable" in Syria, adding that it must be far-reaching.
"The aspirations of the Syrian people must be satisfied," he said, without saying whether embattled President Bashar Assad must step down from power.
Brahimi, appointed by the U.N. Security Council to replace Kofi Annan, has been welcomed by the West and by Assad's traditional allies Russia and China, although the White House said it would seek clarifications on the terms of his mandate.
Damascus insists it is fighting an insurgency by "armed terrorist groups" backed by the West, Gulf states and Turkey, a blanket term used to describe rebel fighters and peaceful demonstrators alike.