Suleiman Urges Kerry to Resolve Syria Crisis Politically, Calls for Protection of Christiansإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
President Michel Suleiman reiterated on Wednesday that the U.N. should hold accountable officials who used chemical weapons in Syria away from foreign military intervention.
During a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Suleiman said he rejected the use of chemical weapons but stressed the importance of a U.N. Security Council role in holding accountable the persons who used them, and finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday he had asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation he has been seeking to authorize the use of military force against Syria over a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21.
U.S. officials say more than 1,400 people died, including at least 400 children, and victims suffered uncontrollable twitching, foaming at the mouth and other symptoms typical of exposure to chemical weapons banned by international treaty.
A Baabda palace statement said Suleiman also told Kerry that civilians, no matter to which sect they belong to, should be protected in armed conflicts.
The president called for the preservation of civilizations and the religious sites of Christians mainly in the towns of Maalula and Bludan.
Syrian rebels were still positioned in the historic Christian town of Maalula near Damascus on Wednesday, a day after they announced they were ready to withdraw, a security source told Agence France Presse.
On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and residents said rebel forces, including jihadists linked to al-Qaida, had overrun Maalula.
The town, home to about 5,000 people, is strategically important for rebels, who are trying to tighten their grip around Damascus and already have bases all around the capital.
Civilians started fleeing the town, which is considered a symbol of the Christian presence in Syria, nearly a week ago, fearing an imminent escalation.
Suleiman urged Kerry “to study the appropriate means that would guarantee the safety” of religious towns, said the Baabda statement.
They also discussed a planned Sept. 25 meeting of an international support group for Lebanon at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Suleiman hoped for a U.S. contribution to guarantee the success of the meeting to confront the Syrian refugee influx.