Kashmir is India’s internal issue: Syria

Updated - November 26, 2021 10:23 pm IST

Published - August 23, 2016 01:48 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Anyone who raises a weapon against the government is a terrorist, says envoy Riad Abbas. FILE PHOTO: SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

Anyone who raises a weapon against the government is a terrorist, says envoy Riad Abbas. FILE PHOTO: SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

Syria and India discussed tackling their “common problem of cross-border terrorism” when Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar met President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus on Sunday, the Syrian Ambassador to India, Riad Abbas, has said.

Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, Dr. Abbas said Mr. Akbar’s visit was significant as it came at a time when the international community had “changed” its position on tackling Syrian rebels and the Islamic State terror group.

“The world has converted its position, from saying that they have to change the Assad government to now saying they have to deal with it. Instead of speaking about the pretext of freedom and democracy in Syria, they have now recognised the violence as terrorism,” Mr. Abbas said.

To a question about recent statements from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation criticising India for alleged human rights violations in tackling violence in Kashmir, Mr. Abbas said Syria, as a secular state, differs from the OIC.

“What is happening in Kashmir is an internal issue for India. Anyone who raises a weapon against the government, we call them terrorists, and the government must take action against them,” said Mr. Abbas.

“What is the the aim of all these terrorists? Are they coming to spread democracy in Syria. Or are they coming to spread peace in Kashmir? And who is behind both of them?” he asked, pointing to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, whom Syria has often blamed for fuelling jihadist violence.

Defends bombing Since 2011, with more than 400,000 killed in the war between Syrian forces and the opposition groups that include Al-Qaeda affiliated Jubhat Al Nasra and the Islamic State, the Assad government has been accused of excessive human right violations by the United Nations. Of particular concern has been the aerial bombardment of civilians, highlighted by the recent photograph of 5-year old Omran Daqneesh who was pulled out of the rubble in Alleppo.

However, the Syrian Ambassador claimed that only “terrorist held areas” have been targeted and that civilians are being used as “human shields”.

“In this area of Alleppo that is bombed by our forces, there are more than 50,000 terrorists. 30,000 of them are foreign mercenaries…They (terrorists) have captured some civilians as human shields… Every government has a right to protect its people and territories from their attacks,” Mr. Abbas told The Hindu , defending the use of airpower.

As The Hindu had reported, the government’s diplomatic outreach to Syria is part of a deeper engagement with non-gulf countries of West Asia like Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt as India seeks to counter international criticism, particularly from the OIC, on Kashmir. According to the Syrian Ambassador, India could use its ties with all these countries to help negotiate peace in the region.

(For full interview visit: >http://bit.ly/RiadSyr )

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