Assad lashes out at Arab League, says it 'lacks legitimacy'

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lashed out at the Arab League and its decision to hand Syria’s seat to the opposition, saying the body “lacks legitimacy,” according to comments published on Thursday.

“The Arab League lacks legitimacy. It’s a League that represents the Arab states, not the Arab people, so it can’t grant or retract legitimacy,” Assad said in extracts from an interview with Turkish media published on the presidency’s Facebook page.

The Arab League last month granted the opposition rebel Syrian National Coalition grouping Syria’s seat at the beginning during a session in Qatar attended by key rebel official and former Coalition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.

“Real legitimacy is not accorded by organizations or foreign officials or other country... legitimacy is that which is granted by the people,” Assad said.

“All these theatrics have no value in our eyes,” he added.

The interview, with Turkey’s Ulusal television and Aydinlik newspaper, was conducted on Tuesday and will be aired in full on Friday, the presidency page said.

In extracts published on Wednesday, Assad accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of not having said “a single word of truth since the beginning of the crisis in Syria.”

Turkey is a key backer of the Syrian revolt that broke out in March 2011.

Damascus has regularly accused Ankara of financing, training and arming rebels fighting troops loyal to Assad. The U.N. says Turkey currently hosts more than 260,000 Syrian refugees.

On the ground

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Syria is worsening rapidly with some areas a landscape of “devastation and destruction,” the Red Cross said on Thursday after a month which activists said was the bloodiest yet in the conflict.

About 70,000 people have been killed and millions displaced during the two-year-old uprising, the United Nations says. Civilians have been cut off from water, electricity and life-saving medical supplies, especially in rebel-held areas targeted by air strikes and ballistic missiles.

The Syrian government’s restrictions on aid convoys have meant most supplies are distributed in government-held areas.

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said aid workers had been able to do make more trips into opposition-held areas in the past two weeks, indicating Damascus may be softening its stance on convoys into such territory.

He said the workers were “not pleasantly surprised” by what they found in areas accessible for the first time, with the need for food, sanitation, water and medicine increasing.

“We saw devastation and destruction,” he said.

“What we were able to achieve is not enough. The needs are growing exponentially while our ability to react is growing linearly,” he said.


Check out Al Arabiya's The Lion's Den, a guide to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's entourage.

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