UNITED NATIONS â€”Â Syriaâ€™s foreign minister told the United Nations on Monday that the violence racking his country was entirely the fault of other nations supplying the armed opposition, that the refugee crisis was concocted by Syriaâ€™s enemies and that a dialogue on a political transition was still possible.
The minister, Walid al-Moallem, speaking on behalf of Syria at the annual opening debate of theÂ General Assembly, did not introduce any new initiative in his recap of his countryâ€™s standard positions over the conflict that began in March 2011.
Even as he was speaking, the United Nations was condemning his government for not doing enough to reduce the violence that has gradually engulfed the entire country, leaving more than 20,000 people dead and thousands more wounded.
In an earlier meeting with the Syrian minister, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon â€œstressed that it was the Syrian people who were being killed, and appealed to the Government of Syria to show compassion to its own people,â€ according to a statement issued by Mr. Banâ€™s spokesman just as Mr. Moallem had begun speaking.
The sharp tone of Mr. Banâ€™s statement was unusual for him. â€œThe secretary general raised in the strongest terms the continued killings, massive destruction, human rights abuses, and aerial and artillery attacks committed by the government,â€ it said. â€œHe expressed deep frustration that, after 19 months of repression and fighting, the situation was still getting worse.â€
But Mr. Moallem apparently rejected the criticism, using his 30-minute speech to blame those supporting the opposition and imposing sanctions on Syria as responsible for both the violence and the dire humanitarian situation.
â€œWe wonder to what extent the statements of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France, which clearly induce and support terrorism in Syria with money, weapons and foreign fighters, are in line with the international responsibilities of these countries in combating terrorism,â€ he said.
The Syrian foreign minister placed blame for the high toll on terrorists, his governmentâ€™s standard terminology for members of the armed insurgency.
In one of his more striking assertions, Mr. Moallem said the refugees who had fled Syria had been manipulated into leaving by Syriaâ€™s neighbors, in order to create an artificial crisis so that these neighbors could receive foreign aid.
Nearly 300,000 Syrians have sought sanctuary in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, and the United Nations refugee agency has called the outflow a major humanitarian problem that could destabilize the region.